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Lee County Conservation Seeking Temporary Home

May 9, 2014

The Lee County Conservation Board still has a lot of decisions to make about its headquarters.

One of the spots where the lightning is believed to have entered the Lee County Conservation Board's office in late April.

The board's building, which is located along Highway 61 near Montrose, sustained heavy damage from a lightning strike in late April.

Initial reports were that the lightning struck a nearby lamp-post and followed an electric line into the building.

Conservation Director Tom Buckley says that has changed to where the lightning appears to have entered the building through three different locations.

He says contractors who have toured the building say it will need to be completely re-wired, which is on top of structural and equipment issues that need to be resolved.

It could be months before the building is ready for use again, which is why the Lee County Conservation Board is considering several temporary locations for staff.

Buckley says one possibility is an office building in downtown Fort Madison.

"The other that we are looking at, and that we would prefer, is to be able to have a temporary unit on our current... site."

The Lee County Board of Supervisors touring the damage following a lightning strike at the Lee County Conservation office.

Buckley says it would help his employees to be able to easily access the rest of the equipment and materials at the Heron Bend location, but internet access is questionable in the mobile unit.

Buckley says his office has been directly/indirectly struck by lightning at least a half-dozen times in recent years.

The board could select a location next week.  In the meantime… the department is operating out of the north Lee County office building.

The Conservation Board has indicated that it will consider the cost of a new building versus repairing the current location.  The board has been working for years to secure a larger facility.

The board cannot afford a new building, though, so the final decision would likely come from the Board of Supervisors or the public through a bond referendum.