County seeks grants for gym, pool donation
Residents in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County will have a chance to vote Aug. 6 to approve or veto the county supporting a project with $1 million to build a new outdoor pool at O.B. Nelson Park and a new gym in Fairfield.
The board of supervisors Monday discussed grants and zero-percent interest loans it could apply for to make the donation. The board decided in previous months to borrow the full $1 million, if approved by voters, and repay the loan with 16 percent of annual local option sales tax receipts or for 10 years, whichever occurs first.
Supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt and Tracy Vance, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association, have been exploring options for grants and loans.
Access Energy Cooperative has a $360,000 revolving loan type of grant and an interest-free $1 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture that charges a half-percent administrative fee, or $2,500.
“I recommend applying for the $1 million loan,” said Vance. “It’s a competitive process but Bruce [Nuzum, vice president/financial advisor at Iowa Area Development Group in Des Moines] felt comfortable Jefferson County could get it.”
Vance said the city of Fairfield has an option on the Whitney property adjacent to the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center until Aug. 15.
If county voters approve, the county funds will be obligated toward an outdoor pool and a rec center. The board placed no restriction on the amount of funds the pool/gym task force has to raise for the county money to be available, but the county will donate the $1 million only if the project moves forward.
The supervisors and Vance agreed to be ready Aug. 7 to apply to USDA for both energy grants.
“We’re not obligated to access the money,” said Dimmitt. “It doesn’t cost anything to apply.”
County needs to implement employee safety guidelines
Jefferson County Public Health director Chris Estle, chairwoman of the safety committee, addressed the supervisors about a list of committee recommendations and policies compiled a few years ago.
“I had a visit from our workers’ compensation insurance agent,” she said. “The safety committee hasn’t been able to enforce our own policies, it needs to come from the supervisors. It’s our responsibility to make sure all county employees are working safely.”
Supervisor Dick Reed said the board could review the list of recommendations and policies.
Estle asked if a department heads meeting could review the safety committee policies and provide input.
“I was going to suggest that,” said supervisor Becky Schmitz. “At a department head meeting, they can all be on the same page and then disseminate these polices to their departments.”
Reed said it could save taxpayers’ money to enforce the safety measures and cut down on workers’ compensation claims.
Real estate auction June 24
The county attorney’s Office has relocated to the former Department of Human Services building north of the courthouse and the former office space next to the Co-Ed Theater is vacant.
The supervisors will auction the vacant former office at 6 p.m. June 24. It has been appraised, but the supervisors have not said the appraised value. A minimum bid amount is planned to be set for the auction.
At the past few meetings, supervisors discussed selling or auctioning some furniture not moved to the new office, including three desks, three tall bookcases, a smaller bookcase, a library table, a coffee table and one office chair.
“One of the desks should go to the dumpster, one of the tall bookcases has a broken shelf, the library table is cracked and the office chair is highly used,” said Reed.
“I’ve already gotten calls from a few nonprofits to take the furniture. I think having it hauled out at no cost to us is a good deal.
“I think we should give the furniture to the civic center and think about using the bookcases for the law library here at the courthouse,” said Reed.
“I’d like to compliment the county attorney staff for cleaning up and vacuuming the former office after moving.”
In other business Monday, the supervisors:
• Approved a request from Fairfest Musical Festival to use electrical power from the Jefferson County Courthouse, so as to avoid using generators.
Reed said the courthouse has an electrical panel in the ground the festival could access instead of tying into the transformer as originally requested.
Supervisors specified the festival must use an electrician from Live Wire because it has done electrical work for the courthouse and is most familiar with the system, and the festival must show proof of insurance liability coverage by bringing a certificate to the county auditor’s office.
• Agreed to contact Gloria Countryman, the supervisors’ representative on the county compensation board. Her term has expired and she needs to serve again or be replaced.
• Schmitz reported on attending the Early Childhood Board of Jefferson, Keokuk and Iowa counties that Lutheran Services won the bid for home visitation services.
“I was confused about Southern Iowa Economic Development Association’s bid,” said Schmitz. “It was way above our $170,000 budget for home visitation services. SIEDA bid $230,000.”
Schmitz also said a family treatment court operating in Washington County has been selected as a model site for research on the effectiveness of such a program.
• Reed attended the South Iowa Area Detention Service Agency meeting and said the detention center staff received a 2 percent pay increase.
“They’ve also made the jobs whole again,” said Reed. “Previously, employees were asked to take unpaid time off. But now, occupancy is up because Des Moines is sending people to it.”
• Dimmitt reported Carroll County was denied in its request to operate as a stand-alone region for mental health care services. The supervisors plan to request Jefferson County serve as a stand-alone region for mental health care under the new state directive for counties to pool resources and offer service regionally.