Board discusses regional mental health request

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

A regional mental health proposal has the Jones County Supervisors opposed to the idea. 

Supervisor Wayne Manternach, who serves on the regional mental health board, reported that Linn County is requesting regional funds to help cover the cost of a new access center. Manternach urged the Jones County Board of Supervisors, during their Nov. 13 meeting, to write a letter and formally vote against the request. 

While Manternach said he didn’t have a total amount Linn County is requesting. 

“It’s my opinion that we ( Jones County) put money in to go toward the region to pay for services,” said Manternach. “Paying for an access center is not paying for services.” 

The state legislature is requiring mental health regions to form access centers; however, Manternach explained the state is not approving the centers until they are up and running. He said they should be approved before they’re built. 

“No one has come to us from Linn County to explain what they’re doing,” continued Manternach. 

Jones County has already given funds toward two mental health projects that specifically benefit Jones County citizens. 

“I’m not willing to give without collaboration and input,” Manternach said. 

There are three potential access centers being proposed in the region. 

“If we fund one, we should fund them all,” said Supervisor Joe Oswald. 

“We won’t fund the building (of the access centers), but we’ll fund services,” clarified Supervisor Ned Rohwedder. 

“I’m not anti-access centers,” clarified Manternach. “I’m not for spending Jones County money without collaboration.” He said Linn County needs to be transparent about its plans for the center and bidding process. “They can choose to build the center; we’ll pay as a customer for the services.” 

Manternach explained the region and Jones County put a budget together for mental health services, not for a bricks and mortar access center. 

“There are ways they can tap into other levies to pay for the center,” he said. 

County Auditor Janine Sulzner asked when it’s all said and done, who owns the access center? Linn County or the region? 

“If the center closes, do we get our money back?” asked Oswald. 

Manternach offered to bring more details to the next board meeting to draft a letter and resolution for the board to vote on. 

In other county business: 

Jean McPherson with the Olin Lions Club was present to ask the board to declare November as Diabetes Awareness Month. This was at the request of all Jones County Lions Clubs. 

“Diabetes is one of the top causes the Lions Club focuses on,” said McPherson. “We work hard to get the awareness out there.” 

In addition, McPherson said all Lions Clubs were challenged by the district governor to take part in one or two projects to either raise money or awareness about diabetes. 

• The board approved the hiring of a part-time regional mental health social worker. Haley Pease will be based out of Jones County, focusing mainly on clients in Dubuque County. 

“It was a challenge to get qualified candidates,” said Lucia Herman, Jones County Community Services director. 

Pease will work 25 hours a week at $26 an hour, effective Dec. 3. 

• IT Coordinator Lisa Mootz met with the board to discuss hiring Jeff Swisher as an on-call IT assistant. Swisher’s hiring would be effective Dec. 1, at $20 an hour. 

The board will approve the hiring at their next meeting. 


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