By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
The Jones County Board of Supervisors heard updates from Jones County Fair Manager John Harms during their meeting on Jan. 29.
Harms said he joined the Great Jones County Fair in 1986, and last year, 2012, was the fair’s best year ever! He said the dry weather, while not ideal for the agriculture industry, did play a role in the success of the fair last summer.
Supervisor Joe Cruise, who was also on the Fair Board last year, praised the fair staff and board members for their hard work in pulling off a successful fair each year.
“With out the staff and volunteers, the fair wouldn’t exist,” said Cruise.
Harms informed the Board that the new Jones County Youth Development Center, located at the fairgrounds in Monticello, is now open. The Jones County ISU Extension offices in Anamosa and fair offices have all moved into the new facility.
Harms said during the course of the project, decisions were made to improve the facility and amenities inside that weren’t initially thought about.
“These were all smart decisions for the future of the building,” Harms noted.
He said the goal in the beginning and throughout the entire project was to remain debt-free. The fair took over as owner of the youth center, and Harms said the stipulation was that the fair would not take on any debt.
In taking pledges and donations from various businesses, organizations, companies and individuals, Harms said the construction was completed before all of the pledges were collected. Many of the pledges were given based on a timeframe over several years. But, Harms said money is still coming in and donations are still being collected.
“We still have more little projects to do,” he said. Those projects include landscaping, establishing a driveway, an outdoor classroom for Master Gardeners, video displays inside for presentations and more.
Depending on amounts given, inside the building is a donor wall, display the names of all those who have given towards the youth center.
“It’s been a great project,” praised Harms. “I can’t say enough about the community and their acceptance of this project.”
The fair and Extension are still working on a date for the official open house and ribbon cutting ceremony.
Deb Schultz, County Community Services, reviewed her FY 2014 departmental budget with the Board, including General Assistance, Substance Abuse Services, Mental Health Services, Mental Health Administration and Mental Health Case Management.
In the case of General Assistance, Schultz proposed adding additional funds to that department for rental and utility assistance. She said she averages about six rental/utility requests a month.
For burial funding assistance, Schultz informed the Board that she has used up all of the funds in that line item.
“You just never know how much to budget,” she said. Schultz said some counties don’t offer such assistance. She said it costs about $1,400 for one funeral through this fund.
For Substance Abuse, Schultz said people being committed to hospitals are staying longer based on the severity of their case.
Mental Health Administration includes Schultz’s position. For FY 2014, Schultz proposed a 4 percent pay increase.
“I put in an awful lot of hours and extra responsibilities,” she said. “I feel it’s justified.” With the state-mandated mental health regionalization, Schultz has been putting in a lot of time for meetings and paperwork.
Case Management includes department staff. Schultz proposed a 3.5 percent pay increase here. “They make less than case management around the area,” she noted. “I don’t want to lose them.”
In other county business:
• The E911 Service Board proposed to increase the 911 Coordinator’s (Gayla Myers) pay for $16 an hour.
• County Engineer Derek Snead said the letting date for the Stone City project would be Tuesday, Feb. 19, in Ames. The late start date will be in July.
• Snead said he spoke with the Olin City Council regarding the 42nd Street Bridge project east of Olin. He said the city doesn’t have funds to obligate towards the project at this time.
Snead recommended setting up a payment plan with Olin over a span of years to pay the county back for the bridge project.
The bridge has piling issues. Snead’s bare-bones estimate for Olin’s share is around $10,000. He said the county could start late this fall.
Supervisor Ned Rohwedder commented that the bridge is in need of repair due to heavy farm traffic in that area.
“We’re fast-tracking this project as much as we can,” said Snead.
• Rose Rohr, Jones County Historic Preservation Commission, presented her annual report. She said the Wapsi River project to include it in the National Historic Register is in the works. They are looking to hire a consultant.
“Stay tuned,” Rohr said.
The Commission is still working with the Historic Register consultant they hired for Scotch Grove.
Some time this year, they hope to work with the Prison Industries to have signs made for Anamosa and Stone City, denoting them as historic districts.
“We need to get the information out to the public,” she said. “We have a lot on our plate this year. We’re staying active.”