County COVID-19 cases dip, additional death reported

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Jones County Public Health Preparedness Specialist Kaci Ginn reported on the latest county COVID-19 cases during the Aug. 4 board of supervisor meeting.

     As of that morning, there were 15 active cases and one probable case.

     Ginn also shared that Jones County experienced a second death due to coronavirus. She shared that the individual had been hospitalized and battling COVID-19 for some time.

     The Express reached out to Public Health Coordinator Jenna Lovaas concerning the decline in positive cases, after several weeks of an increase.

     “Cases do seem to be slowly declining at the moment,” expressed Lovaas, “so hopefully that trend continues.”

     Some Iowa counties and cities have issued proclamations and policies mandating facemasks in all public places. Lovaas said in Jones County that would either be up to the board of supervisors or individual cities. JCPH would provide the support behind such a mandate.

     In relation to the pandemic and virus, the board has been taking more of a serious look at gathering permits. Public Health has advised against mass gatherings in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 locally.

     County Auditor Janine Sulzner informed the board that the county does not have an ordinance (law) that allows them to decline a gathering permit. The action is simply done through a resolution.

     “If you continue to get requests (for gathering permits),” noted Sulzner, “the ordinances need to be updated. An ordinance has more teeth to it (versus a resolution).”

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach suggested they survey other counties to see how they handle gathering permits.

     “It’s generally not a big deal,” noted Supervisor Ned Rohwedder. “COVID-19 adds more emphasis to it.”

     “What are we trying to regulate?” asked Manternach. “A certain number of people?” He suggested perhaps Sheriff Greg Graver should be involved in the verbiage of the ordinance as the enforcement agency.

     It was asked as to whether Jones County Public Health should be the one to put together such an ordinance. Sulzner said in that case, there wouldn’t be an enforcement agency behind the law.

In other county business:

     The board approved awarding $17,200 to the Siebels property on Lead Mine Road, as recommended by the Condemnation Commission.

     The initial offer was $16,200, but the Commission suggested an additional $1,000 for “consequential damages.”

     County Engineer Derek Snead said landowners have a 30-day appeal window following the condemnation proceedings.

     “This amount is extremely close to what we and the appraiser recommended,” said Snead.

     The Ruggles landowners on Lead Mine requested that the county cover their attorney and appraisal fees associated with their property. Secondary Roads previously offered them $10,500 for an easement. The additional fees would add $1,600 onto that amount.

     Both Snead and Assistant Engineer Todd Postel recommended the board not set a precedent by paying these extra fees.

     The board took no action.

     Snead reported that 190th Street leading to Camp Courageous from Highway 38 outside Monticello is back open to the public.

     Camp Courageous previously completed a pedestrian tunnel project underneath the roadway.

     “It looks nice,” praised Snead of the project. “They did a good job.”

     While 190th is open to traffic, it has not been re-paved; it’s still loose gravel.

     The board approved an amendment to the 28E agreement with the Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority. The amendment covers the topic of alternative voting members on the board so they have enough voting members to have a quorum.

     The board approved Supervisors Wayne Manternach and Jon Zirkelbach as alternatives on the WMA board. Supervisor Joe Oswald currently sits on the board.

     The board also approved a payment of $2,500 for Fiscal Year 2021 toward the WMA. This is half of the yearly $5,000 requested.


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