Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 16, 2018

Phelps: Van Buren’s jail diversion program working

By Rusty Ebert, Ledger correspondent | Sep 08, 2017

KEOSAUQUA – Van Buren County Supervisors dealt with weed issues, salaries in the county attorney’s office and road issues during their regular meeting Aug. 28.

• Donna Folker of rural Bonaparte presented a letter of concern to the board regarding weed eradication and road issues. Folker told supervisors that for a number of years, she asked the county to do something about the Canadian Thistle problem in her area, to no avail. She would also like rock checks in her grader ditch on 290th Street and mentioned a tube that needs to be replaced. Thornburg said he was unaware of the issues and would look into the matter.

He also detailed the problems the county has had this year with spraying for thistle, because of the dry weather. Supervisors discussed some of the weed issues. Supervisor chairman Mark Meek told Folker that Thornburg would meet with her on the problems outlined in her letter. Thornburg said he would also meet with his staff who are certified in spraying to come up with a solution for the weed issues.

• Jail diversion coordinator Rochelle Phelps was present to update the board on Van Buren County’s jail diversion program. Also present were Sandy Stever and Deputy Sheriff Brad Hudson. Phelps said the jail diversion program is working.

“This is not a get out of jail free card,” Phelps said, “but we are looking at the people in jail and if there is a severe mental health issue that might be better served with other resources.”

She cited the case of a person with a severe mental health issue that was solved when family from out of state agreed to assist in finding resources to help the person in that state.

In the long run, she said, it’s a win-win for the community and the county, as it does reduce the cost to the county.

Hudson said he was pleased with the program and the department has relied on this a lot.  The number of mental health committals has decreased by 75-85 percent, according to Hudson.

• Steve Fogarty, Iowa National Guard liaison, was present to discuss methods of accessing disaster assistance to the county in the event of a disaster. He said they are the eyes and ears to determine the support that might be needed.

• Van Buren County Engineer Ryne Thornburg was present to update the board on the following projects including 28E agreement with the City of Bonaparte, farm to market fund transfer, culvert/bridge replacements, crack filling, city requests, equipment repair/replacements, brush cleaning, V64 repairs, and shop roof repair.

Thornburg said the J40 resurfacing project should begin soon. He said he is still working with Willis Cox on right of way acquisition for a bridge replacement project.

• The board approved an agreement with the City of Bonaparte for the funding and reimbursement of the local match for J40 and W40 resurfacing and construction within the corporate limits of Bonaparte.  Thornburg said it basically finances the city’s 20 percent portion of the project, which is $95,000.

“For the city, that’s a lot of money up front,” Thornburg said. Bonaparte currently receives pass-through monies from the state, through the county, for roads.

The city of Bonaparte would use the pass-through funds to finance the project. The county would pay the up front money and then keep the pass-through funds over a six and a half year period, based on the current amounts, Thornburg said.

Supervisors noted that this has been done by other cities in the county and approved this arrangement.

Thornburg also said that the city of Keosauqua has asked the county if it would contract to put shoulder material on the Country Lane project. It wasn’t included in the contract the city had with Norris Asphalt, which did an overlay project on the street.

The city of Milton asked the county a few weeks ago to contract to do some road work. At that time, supervisors said that it had concerns because of the amount of work the county must contend with on its own roads.

• On request of the VBC Conservation Board, the board approved the abatement of current property taxes on  county-owned property in Bonaparte. This land is adjacent to Lindsay Wilderness.



• On recommendation of the county sheriff, Mary Pablonis was appointed as a process server for the VBC Sheriff’s Office.

• On recommendation of the county attorney, Lonna McGrath, Keosauqua, was appointed as a PT administrative assistant in the county attorney’s office, effective June 26 of this year, at a salary of $13 per hour. She has worked only on an as needed basis, Van Buren County Attorney Barchman said. On the recommendation of the county attorney, the salary of the following employee in the county attorney’s office was set as following, effective with the beginning of the next pay period:  Terri Quartucci (PT assistant county attorney)-$36.18/hour. The increase is 4.7 percent. It was not adjusted when across-the-board increases went into effect on July 1.

The amount recommended by county attorney Barchman would match what Quartucci is paid for by Henry County. She is assistant in Henry County for three days and two days in Van Buren County. She receives no benefits from Van Buren County, other than IPERS, Barchman added.

• On the recommendation of the county attorney, the salary of the following employee in the county attorney’s office was set, effective with the beginning of the next pay period:  Linda Mott (PT legal assistant)-$18/hour.  She had been paid $13. This is a part-time position. Supervisor Bob Waugh expressed concerns about the increase, but said he favored it because this employee was started at a lower wage.

County attorney Barchman said the changes are in the budget.

• On recommendation of the county sheriff, Teresa Adkins, Stockport, was appointed as a PT dispatcher/jailer, effective August 26, 2017, at a salary of $16.81/hour.

• The following request for rural tax abatement was approved:  Elvin H. and Bryan L. Martin, 12190 E Highway 2, Milton (Parcel #34-09-28-100-330, Jackson Twp,).

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