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Commission pays yearly visit to Ogden

By Burk Krohe

OGDEN — County commissioners made their yearly trek to Ogden, the first of four visits to smaller communities for formal meetings Thursday.

Commissioners Karen McCulloh, Al Johnson and Dave Lewis convened their regular meeting at the city’s Community Center. They will also meet on upcoming Thursdays in Riley, Leonardville and Randolph.

At Thursday’s session, the president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce updated commissioners on a new program and position in the chamber, and the director of the Riley County Health Department updated commissioners on the county’s health fair.

Lyle Butler, president and CEO of the chamber, said the chamber is starting a program to appreciate businesses already in the community. Butler told commissioners members of the business community in Manhattan said they wanted to see a focus on working with existing businesses.

“Those are some things we’ve often overlooked,” Butler said. “A lot of times we tend to focus on bringing new businesses into town—that tends to be the more exciting thing to do.”

Butler said often companies will add employees or expand their operations, and it will go unnoticed. To remedy the issue the chamber will be hiring a full-time staff member to work exclusively with existing businesses. 

“Sometimes businesses are intimidated by the city and the county,” Butler said. “They don’t know easily where to go if they’re having a problem with something.”

The new staff member will visit and call business owners to field their concerns and talk about possibilities for expansion within the community. Butler said the chamber will be looking to hire and experienced person who “understands business and economic development.”

Susie Kufahl, director of the county health department, updated commissioners on the department’s annual health fair. The fair started Tuesday and its last day will be Friday from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Residents can get a low cost blood draw and free health assessment. On Saturday, from 7 to 10 a.m. residents can pick up blood draw results and partake in a free “heart healthy breakfast” and family-friendly activities.

Kufahl said the department would consider 400 to 500 attendees for the entire fair a good turnout. She also noted that Riley County was recently ranked the healthiest county in the state, despite poor results in the “excessive drinking” and “sexually transmitted disease infections” categories.

Lewis added since the county commission is now the board of health, it would be advantageous for commissioners to go through an orientation session. Kufahl said that could be arranged easily.

Clancy Holeman, county counselor, also updated commissioners on the status of the questions the county submitted to the state attorney general’s office regarding the ongoing sales tax issue. Holeman said he has received confirmation that the office received the county’s questions, but said it declined to “volunteer how quickly they would respond.”

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