Hospital big test for candidates

By Angie Baldelomar

Sid Metcalf and Karen Larson, the two Republican candidates running for county commissioner for District 2, answered questions at the candidate forum organized by the Decatur Professional Women last Wednesday.

They discussed their views on the hospital, the recycling program, the Twins Creek Extension District and challenges the county commission could face in the next two years.

About the hospital, both agreed that the important thing is to keep it. Mr. Metcalf said the commissioners approved a vote on raising the countywide property-tax levy to give the hospital a little more money to work with. He said the hospital employs over 100 people that the county cannot afford to lose because it can cause a domino effect. Mrs. Larson, for her part, said that the hospital was essential for the community, but that she had questions about the tax levy.

Recycling was another topic discussed during the forum. Mr. Metcalf said commissioners are looking for an alternative, believing that with constant fee increases, the current regional recycling program is too expensive. He said the regional program needs to be reconfigured. Mrs. Larson said she wants to keep the program because, with it, people feel like they are doing something about excess trash. She said she would like to see something continue.

Regarding Twins Creek Extension District services in Decatur County, Mr. Metcalf said that the commissioners didn’t like that they did not have control over tax money, which is one reason why the county wants to pull out. He said he is not sure whether the K-State Extension Service will release the county. The state will keep an agent here as it was before, he said. Mrs. Larson said she thinks Extension is a big part of the community, and she thinks the program will continue. She said disagreements need to be handled before they get to the place they did with this situation.

Mr. Metcalf said he sees the biggest challenge in the next couple of years as saving the hospital. The other big challenge is to maintain the county infrastructure, he said. He praised the road department for the job it does with the budget given.

Mrs. Larson agreed with him that the hospital is the big priority. She also mentioned the infrastructure and some debts that need to be paid. She said the important thing is to make decisions that will keep things going along, she said.

Mr. Metcalf said that four years ago, people asked him to run for commissioner. The city and the county are important for him, he said, which is why he decided to run.

“It takes four years, at least, to know what you’re doing,” he said. “I like it, and I’d like to work for you some more.”

Mrs. Larson said she had been thinking of running for commissioner since before she became Oberlin city administrator. She learned a lot during that time, she said.

“I know procedures and how to get things done,” she said. “I know too much not to keep sharing it with the community and the county. Things are changing, and we need to change with it.”

This story was published on page 3A of The Oberlin Herald‘s print edition on July 20, 2016.


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