The Times West Virginian

Opinion

May 11, 2014

Levies supporting parks and recreation, library system, mass transit boost county

Marion Countians are known for their generosity in helping make our community the best it can be.

That support comes in many forms, including their choices at election time.

Marion County has backed the school excess levy for decades, and voters also have been strongly in favor of levies helping fund parks and recreation, public libraries and mass transit (bus service).

The final three are up for renewal in Tuesday’s election, and passage of all three is again essential.

The Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission (MCPARC) has shown tremendous growth over the decades of its existence.

Tony Michalski, MCPARC director, said the parks and recreation levy will help grow and improve the 11 parks that MCPARC runs. MCPARC also manages the rail trails throughout the county, and some trails could soon be paved. Plans are in place to develop a new trail from Fairview to Mannington. Michalski also said an indoor recreation center for the county is a possibility.

MCPARC also offers young people more than 100 jobs during the summer.

“A lot of these kids, it’s their first job, with us, as a lifeguard or at the concession stand or working with our maintenance crew,” he said.

The Marion County Public Library offers services throughout the county.

Erika Reed, library director, said the levy supplies 75 percent of the organization’s funding.

“We would not have library service here in Marion County without the levy,” she said.

The county’s libraries are much more than places to check out book. Library access can help people look for jobs and build resumes. In 2013, the county library system served 275,000 patrons and provided Internet-access stations that were visited by 20,000 people. Reed said the library is working to bring digital literacy to Marion County by being leaders in technology.

“We try to bring digital literacy, as well as learning literacy and print literacy, to Marion County to fill all those needed roles that the gap in our socioeconomic standards creates within our county,” Reed said.

Reed said the levy would help provide a 24/7 library in the White Hall area. She said it will be like a large vending machine that holds several items available for patrons at any time.

During a public forum in March, George Levitsky, general manager of the Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority, said the mass transit levy helps secure federal funding and also keeps bus fares stable. Public transportation links passengers to doctors, hospitals, schools, colleges, jobs and shopping, among other things.

“We pride ourselves in providing clean, safe and efficient service throughout Marion County,” he said.

Ongoing expenses are significant with the necessity to maintain and update the bus fleet. Levitsky said within the next four years, 21 buses will need repaired or replaced.

Parks and recreation, libraries and bus service contribute greatly to the quality of life in Marion County — from vital day-to-day needs to enjoyment.

We’re confident voters understand and will give the levies support as they’ve done in the past.

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