Iola Council OKs land purchase



February 28, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Iola is the new owner of 80 acres of land near Russell Stover Candies.
City Council members voted, 5-1, Monday to pay $400,000 for the land that had been owned by Iola Industries.
The acquisition serves two purposes:
First, it gives the city property on hand if such is ever needed for future economic development, City Administrator Sid Fleming said.
Second, it gives Iola Industries funds to invest in other projects, noted John McRae, former Iola mayor and Iola Industries member.
“This allows us to continue working toward our mission,” McRae said after Monday’s meeting.
The land lies just west of the intersection of Marshmallow Lane and Miller Road.
The city will continue to lease the land for agricultural use, as Iola Industries had done to Doug Strickler, who farms the land.
Neither Fleming nor McRae were willing to be more specific on what the transaction might herald.
Fleming noted water, electric and gas utilities already are available for the property if needs warrant, although the electric service for the land is provided by Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative, and not the city.
City Councilman Aaron Franklin cast the lone dissenting vote, noting after the meeting land acquisition had not been a part of the city’s capital improvements plan.
“We have a lot of other needs” Franklin said.
Two other council members, Bob Shaughnessy and Austin Sigg, were absent.

THE CITY’S website,, is getting an upgrade.
Council members approved a website development contract with CivicPlus at a cost of $6,525 over each of the next four years to redevelop the website.
Fleming described the website as a vital “economic development tool,” noting it often is the first thing a prospective resident or business owner checks when researching a community.
The old website hasn’t been changed in several years, Fleming noted, and is not as user-friendly as newer sites.
A redesigned website also offers community members easier access to public documents and quick links to pay bills or register for recreation programs.
Over the last three years, the city has budgeted $1,500 annually for website maintenance, but expenditures have exceeded those budget numbers, averaging $2,146 over that same time period.
Aaron Franklin and Nancy Ford voted against the plan, which passed 4-2. Voting in favor were Don Becker, Beverly Franklin, Jon Wells and Sandy Zornes.
Both Aaron Franklin and Ford said they preferred any added expenditures be approved when the city sets its budget, not at mid-year.
“I’m just not a fan of making a significant budgetary implement in the middle of our year,” Aaron Franklin said. “I agree the web page needs work. But is it a priority, a necessity, something we should jump on in the middle of the year?”
Fleming said the added general fund obligation was made possible through insurance premiums this year, which came in about $13,000 under budget.
“Moving forward, we can then budget this expense subsequently in future years,” Fleming said.

COUNCIL members scheduled condemnation hearings for properties at 26 N. Third St. and 310 N. Fourth St.
Both properties have significant code violations and should be considered uninhabitable, Code Enforcement Officer Gregg Hutton said.
Both properties have received numerous code violation citations in the past, Hutton noted.

May 6, 2015
January 18, 2014
May 11, 2011
March 2, 2011