Supervisors approve transfer from Revolving Loan Fund to Allamakee County Economic Development, hear plans for VMH to petition for County ownership

National Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation ... The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors signed a proclamation at its Monday, March 28 regular meeting designating April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Allamakee County. Pictured above at the proclamation signing are: Left to right - Front row: Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick, Helping Services for Youth and Families Family Educators Lillian Quam and Heather Ward, Helping Services for Youth and Families Director of Family Education and Support Barb Fjelstul; Back row: Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Larry Schellhammer, Helping Services for Youth and Families Executive Director Carson Eggland, and Allamakee County Board of Supervisors members Dan Byrnes and Mark Reiser. Submitted photo.

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, March 28 to address a full agenda of items including the National Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation, the consideration of LED lighting quotes for the County Courthouse and discussion of Veterans Memorial Hospital ownership. There was no Public Comment during the time allotted for this agenda item.

The meeting moved into the review of plat requests. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Stephanie Runkle provided an overview of the Doris Berns Estate plat and the Roger Matthew, Stephen E. and Michele M. and Chase S. Pladsen plat, with both requests being approved.

Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) addressed the next matter relating to the consideration of the Allamakee Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Committee’s recommendation to award grant funding from the Allamakee Revolving Loan Fund  to ACED for economic development projects. Reinke discussed the history of the Revolving Loan Fund in providing low interest loans of up to $40,000 allowing for business expansions or gap funding. Reinke further explained that there is over $200,000 in this account currently and that the language used in setting up the Revolving Loan Fund  also allows for these funds to be used for economic development programs if a need exists relating to marketing and tourism.

Reinke presented a request being made for $32,000 by ACED from the Revolving Loan Fund. She discussed a variety of projects including a childcare provider incentive program as potential needs for this funding. Supervisor Dan Byrnes provided further clarification on the Revolving Loan Fund  not being in the $175,000 range, but rather above $200,000 following the $32,000 funding request from ACED due to a loan currently being paid back.

Byrnes further discussed his role as a non-voting member of the Revolving Loan Fund  Committee as a representative of the Board of Supervisors. Chairperson Larry Schellhammer and Supervisors Mark Reiser and Byrnes approved the transfer of $32,000 from the Revolving Loan Fund to ACED for economic development projects.

The meeting moved into the next agenda item relating to the consideration of Fiscal-Year 2023 (FY23) wage increases for Allamakee County Treasurer’s office clerks. Byrnes motioned to approve wage increases equivalent of 55-percent of the Treasurer’s salary for Michelle Gress and 58-percent of the Treasurer’s salary for Kimie Berns with that motion being approved by the Supervisors.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer addressed the next matter relating to the signing of the contract for scanning the Auditor’s transfer books records with American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding used to pay for the project. At the March 14, 2022 meeting, the Supervisors approved the Resolution obligating ARP funds for the scanning, digitizing and online availability of the documents to be performed by a service provider relating to records in the Auditor’s office and Recorder’s office, not to exceed an amount of  $135,000 in total. At the March 28 meeting, Beyer advised that $39,400 would be necessary for the Auditor’s office portion of the project. The Supervisors approved to sign the contract for the scanning of Auditor’s records with payment using ARP funds.

The Manure Management Plan update for Devin Humpal Site #1 was accepted and placed on file. The meeting then moved into the consideration of the Fiscal-Year 2023 (FY23) Drainage District #1 Levy. Beyer noted that the levy would be set at $15,000 this year with the Supervisors approving the levy as discussed.

Director of Family Education and Support Barb Fjelstul of Helping Services for Youth and Families discussed the next agenda item relating to the National Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation. Fjelstul provided an overview of family education and support programs offered by Helping Services promoting child development, child abuse prevention and kindergarten readiness. Fjelstul noted that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and that this Friday, April 1 individuals are being encouraged to wear blue in honor of child abuse prevention and the promotion of positive childhood experiences. Fjelstul read aloud the proclamation of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Allamakee County with the Supervisors approving to sign the proclamation.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of LED lighting quotes for the Allamakee County Courthouse. Two quotes were reviewed including $32,503.25, less $1,800 in rebates, from Ken Kerr of Kerr Electric and Bob Larkin of Light Source, and a quote of $38,385.12, less $3,000 in rebates, from Zac Christensen of Christensen Electric LLC. The Kerr Electric/Light Source bid was approved.

Allamakee County GIS Coordinator Jon Luchsinger addressed the next matter relating to discussion and consideration of multi-factor authentication (MFA) related items. MFA refers to a process requiring additional pieces of evidence or security relating to computer network or web access either remotely or from within a County office. At the previous week’s (March 21) Supervisors meeting, Luchsinger was directed to gather feedback and compile a list of County employees that will be using a YubiKey®, a verification thumbdrive necessary for onsite or remote network access, with a verification by phone app as another option available allowing for this second verification.

Luchsinger discussed the number of YubiKeys® to be ordered with an April 21 implementation deadline necessary in meeting requirements of the County’s cyber liability insurance coverage. The Supervisors approved the MFA plan as proposed by Luchsinger.

Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke discussed the County Attorney’s office carpet and painting project. Gericke noted that arrangements have been made for this work to be performed and provided an overview of the budgeting for this project. No action was required relating to this matter.

Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) CEO Michael Coyle and the Supervisors discussed a proposed change in ownership of the hospital from being city-owned to being county-owned. Coyle provided an overview of the process which began with the VMH Board of Trustees voting to move forward with pursuing this change in ownership, an idea supported by the Waukon City Council. Coyle explained that a petition requiring approximately 400 signatures will be necessary with that petition process to start soon.

VMH’s sustainability and growth were discussed by Coyle as being the major factors in moving forward with this proposed change. VMH’s role in serving the entire county was discussed in addition to infrastructure and improvements that have been made and are yet to be made relating to the 70-year old facility. Coyle discussed VMH’s role in economic development as an employer and as a medical service provider keeping services available locally to residents who otherwise would be traveling outside of the county or state.

Coyle advised that the new VMH Medical Clinic has been a success with Behavioral Health Clinic services soon to be added to that location. VMH’s services relating to orthopedic surgery, podiatry and physical therapy, among other areas, were also discussed. Coyle agreed to meet with Reiser and Byrnes individually to answer questions and provide a tour of the hospital, with a meeting having already taken place with Schellhammer.

Coyle noted that petitioning for signatures from the public begins April 4 with that petition to be presented to the Supervisors no later than August 18. Coyle added that the final language for the ballot will be submitted to the County Auditor by September 23 with voting on the matter to take place Tuesday, November 8 by majority vote within the city and the county, with the hospital’s budget to be established in the December time period. No action was taken relating to this discussion item.

Beyer addressed the next matter relating to the consideration of the final voucher for a bridge replacement project for Bremer County. Beyer noted that this relates to the final payment for a bridge project near Harpers Ferry with funding bundled with Bremer County. The final voucher for the project was approved by the Supervisors.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Solid Waste Manager Dave Mooney discussed the removal of a grease dumpster from the former Vet’s Club location, now the Allamakee County Historical Society’s Veterans Museum in Waukon. Mooney and the Supervisors also discussed the repair of signage at the Makee Manor Cemetery.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) with Waukon being a pass-through community between West Union and Lansing after that announcement had been made over the weekend. Mellick discussed a variety of other matters relating to the Public Safety Center including a water tower inspection to take place and landscaping to be performed.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker provided an update and further discussed the RAGBRAI route to include Waukon. Snitker also discussed upcoming meetings and the weather forecast for this week to possibly include a mixture of rain and snow.

Gericke discussed upcoming training sessions that he and Assistant County Attorney Jill Kistler will be attending. Gericke and the Supervisors discussed planning to address small cemeteries and their maintenance that are no longer associated with active churches or that are in rural locations.

Prior to adjournment, Beyer discussed filing deadlines and ballot preparation. She also discussed the FY21 audit and related matters including outstanding checks to be submitted to the Iowa Treasure Hunt.