Tourism, Riverview request county funding

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Several entities were present at the Jan. 8 Jones County Supervisor meeting to request funding from the county for Fiscal Year 2020 budgets.

     Bob Hatcher, Jones County Tourism Association director, requested $16,000, a 3 percent increase in funding, as well as 100 percent of the county’s Hotel/Motel Tax. In typical practice, the county has designated 100 percent of that tax to Jones County Tourism.

     “Last year was a banner year,” said Hatcher. “Tourism spending was up 5 percent.”

     Hotels in both Anamosa and Monticello brought in $91,000 in Hotel/Motel Tax.

     Hatcher shared that tourism in Jones County produces about 110 jobs, with $2 million plus in payroll.

     Hatcher outlined three goals JCTA looking ahead to the next year. Goal one: Increase overnight stays in Jones County hotels.

     “$7 in Hotel/Motel Tax is generated per night,” said Hatcher. “Travelers spend $620 a day.”

     Hatcher said one way to increase those overnight stays is to extend JCTA’s advertising dollars. “We’re reaching out farther to the 150 to 200-mile range,” he said.

     JCTA is also working with local hotels to establish incentive and discount programs. So people who stay in local hotels would receive discounts to area restaurants and attractions.

     Goal two: Increase JCTA memberships from businesses and attractions. “We need to get more members,” urged Hatcher. “We need to show the benefit they receive if they become members.”

     Goal three: Promote stay-cations. This involves encouraging Jones County residents to vacation right here in their own backyard.

     “We need to sell Jones County harder to locals,” Hatcher said. “We can help people design their own stay-cation specifically for their family.

     “This will result in more people staying and spending money in Jones County.”

     Brandi Lewin and Jonathan Chambers with The River Center were also present, requesting $5,000 in funding from the county. Sheriff Greg Graver was also present to explain his office’s connection with Riverview.

     “Riverview has been working in the county for several years,” said Chambers. “Your funding will allow us to continue our services in the next year and to continue to develop those connections.”

     Riverview provides free sexual assault response services to a 14-county region in Eastern Iowa. Lewin is the SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) coordinator, and works regularly with the Jones County Sheriff’s Office in the event of a sexual assault case.

     “We want to focus more on rural communities versus urban,” said Lewin. “We primarily respond to sexual violence cases.”

     SART meets with Jones County officials once a month to discuss ongoing sexual assault cases and to provide free training for law enforcement.

     “Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of child cases in this area,” shared Lewin.

     Graver said in his time with the Sheriff’s Office, a variety of sexual assault advocates have come and gone. SART has remained constant.

     “It’s all about the victims,” he said. “How can we make things better for the victims?”

     Graver said he’s encouraged that new County Attorney Kristofer Lyons will be involved in SART, alleviating the dual role law enforcement played.

     “This partnership is good,” praised Graver. “I hope Riverview can stay dedicated to provide staff locally.”

     Lewin said their sexual assault advocates follow a case from start to finish.

     “We invest a lot of time,” she said. “We’re 100 percent focused on the victim and family.”

     In 2018, Riverview served 16 children and adults.

     “We need your support to continue these services,” said Chambers.

In other county business:

     The board approved the annual Construction Evaluation Resolution (Master Matrix) regarding applications for animal confinements feeding operations.

     This allows the board of supervisors to conduct site visits with the DNR for large confinement facilities.

     • The board approved the hiring of Sheralyn Schultz as a Universal Deputy in the Treasurer’s Office. This is a new full-time position created by Treasurer Amy Picray.

     Picray said she received 48 applications, and conducted six interviews during the first round. In the second round, Picray and her staff brought in four potential candidates.

     “It’s nice to have that many applicants,” remarked Supervisor Joe Oswald.

     The salary for the new position is $36,938.

     • The board approved a change order for the Environmental Health office renovation project for a new door for $325.

     Environmental Health did request a front desk with built-in cabinets. The board planned to seek an additional bid from Prison Industries before approving that particular change order.



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