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Lee County

Lee County wants to make sure its residents are aware of new farm operations that can be considered controversial at times.

The Board of Supervisors has stayed out of the discussion about hog confinements in the past. 

Lee County has been one of the few counties in Iowa to reject the state DNR’s Master Matrix, which is a scoring system for such facilities.  It has also avoided making a ruling on permits because the DNR has the final say.

Upcoming changes to Iowa’s mental health system may not impact Lee County in the short term.

The state will start covering the cost of Medicaid-endorsed services in July.  That means there will be no more reimbursements for counties, which will drastically shrink budgets for mental health and other developmental disabilities.

What is left in the budgets will be primarily used to pay for services not covered by Medicaid.

Ryanne Wood oversees Lee County’s MHDD department.  She says that is why efforts are underway to shift county-funded clients to Medicaid.

Lee County, IA has some competition in its efforts to land a new industry.

The county has spent months trying to encourage Iowa Fertilizer Company to build a plant on several hundred acres of land just north of Fort Madison.

The company is a subsidiary of Orascom Construction Industries, which is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

The $1.3-billion plant could create up to 200 permanent jobs and several thousand short-term construction jobs.

Voters in Iowa will go to the polls on Tuesday, June 5.  They will decide who should move on to the November general election.

Lee County is offering a new option to residents that could make their voting experience much quicker.

The county currently uses a voter registration system known as the Precinct Atlas.  It was developed by the Cerro Gordo County Auditor and is used by dozens of Iowa counties.

The system stores voter information electronically.

The Democrats running for the District V seat on the Lee County Board of Supervisors are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to government consolidation.

It was one year ago, this month, that the board voted to reorganize county government. 

The final proposal resulted in the moving of the Auditor and Treasurer’s offices to the North Lee County Office Building in Fort Madison. 

In turn, the Assessor and Recorder’s offices are now located in the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.

Lee County could update a policy that affects every one of its employees.

Safety Coordinator BJ Stephens says she would like to do a complete re-write of the county’s safety plan.  She says it would cover every aspect of county government by creating a streamlined approach to handling issues that multiple departments must address.

Board of Supervisors Chairperson Janet Fife-LaFrenz says the goal is “to make our environment that our people work in and our residents come in to visit a very safe one.”

Lee County will provide money for a proposed sports complex in Fort Madison.  The decision comes after the Board of Supervisors spent weeks rejecting requests for funding.

The Vision Iowa Board has said that Fort Madison’s request for more than $800,000 will not be considered without a $25,000 contribution from the county.  The program requires city, county, and public support for a project.

Lee County will receive some outside help in its efforts to land a new industry.

The Board of Supervisors has agreed to hire attorney Bob Josten to negotiate with Iowa Fertilizer Company on behalf of the county.  Josten is with Dorsey & Whitney, a Des Moines-based law firm the county uses when it borrows money.

Iowa Fertilizer Company is considering a 300-acre site near Wever for a $1.3-billion dollar fertilizer plant. 

The Lee County Narcotics Task Force got its start in 1992.

The organization has been extremely active since the start of 2012.  It has made public dozens of arrests throughout the county.

Commander Stacy Weber credits the work of the detectives involved with the task force.             He says they are three of the most highly motivated officers he has ever met.

Weber also credits the flow of information coming from inmates and staff within the Lee County Jail.

It’s unclear whether Lee County’s support for a proposed sports complex in Fort Madison will lead to any state funding.  The project calls for the construction of three football/soccer fields and three softball/baseball diamonds.

The Vision Iowa Board says the county must provide at least $25,000 if the board is to act on Fort Madison’s request for more than $870,000.

The county has created a special community development fund to try to raise the money.  $1,500 has already been pledged at this point.

Lee County has started collecting money to cover its share of a potential state grant for a proposed sports complex in Fort Madison.

That is possible because the Board of Supervisors has approved the creation of a Community Development Fund.

The first donations came in shortly after the official vote.  Supervisors Rick Larkin ($1,000) and Larry Kruse ($500) pulled out their wallets and wrote their checks to back up their verbal pledges from last week.

It appears Lee County has come up with a way to contribute to a proposed sports complex in Fort Madison without using taxpayer money.

The county is being asked to provide a total of $25,000 over the next five years to the $3.4-million dollar project.  The Vision Iowa Board has said without that contribution, Fort Madison will not receive any state funding.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has rejected previous requests for that much money, but Supervisor Larry Kruse believes a compromise has been reached.

The city of Fort Madison is going to take its turn in trying to secure funding for a proposed sports complex.

The city has already pledged $500,000 over the next two years to the construction of three football/soccer fields and three baseball/softball diamonds.

The city council will write a letter to the Lee County Board of Supervisors to try to encourage the county to increase its contribution of $3,000 over three years.

Mayor Brad Randolph asked for the letter to be placed before the council.

Fort Madison’s proposed sports complex has received another piece of bad news from the state.

Supporters traveled to Mason City to make a second pitch to the Vision Iowa Board for funding.  The task force promoting the sports complex is seeking up to $1-million to add to the $2.5-million dollars generated through public and private donations.

Unfortunately for the task force, the request for state funding was denied by an oversight committee for the Vision Iowa Board.

There is some apprehension among members of the Keokuk City Council when it comes to supporting the local hospital.

Keokuk Area Hospital continues to face an uncertain future due to its financial instability. 

The hospital says it is reimbursed about 75% of the money spent on care and services.  That is due to a number of factors, including a large number of low income clients and the formula for state and/or federal reimbursements.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has decided against increasing the county’s contribution to a proposed sports complex in western Fort Madison.

The panel had previously agreed to provide a letter of support for the project along with all of the county’s hotel/motel tax revenue for the project. 

That sounds much better than it looks on paper, though, as Lee County generates less than $1,000 a year from that tax.

The ball is in Lee County’s court when it comes to the future of a proposed sports complex in western Fort Madison.

The $3.4-million project calls for the construction of three soccer/football fields and three baseball/softball diamonds near Fort Madison Community Hospital.  Some of the land is being donated for the complex while the rest is being leased.

Public and private donations have crossed the $2.4-million mark.  That includes $500,000 over the next two years from the city of Fort Madison.

Residents of Mooar/Powdertown agreed to work with Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) several years ago. 

RUSS helps rural communities in ten southeast Iowa counties secure state and/or federal funding for sanitary sewer systems.

The sewer project was put on hold, last year, during the engineering phase because of personnel and funding issues with RUSS.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors wanted to see if residents of Mooar/Powdertown were still interested in working with RUSS, so it held a public meeting Tuesday night.

Lee County is showing support for Keokuk Area Hospital as the Board of Supervisors has pledged $100,000 to the financially-strapped hospital.

There is one condition with the contribution.  It must be matched or even exceeded by the Keokuk City Council.

Keokuk Area Hospital CEO Wally Winkler says the city and county are being asked for support the hospital in the hopes of receiving additional state funding.  He says there is money available to help hospitals, like Keokuk, that receive inadequate reimbursements for services.

Croton and Mooar/Powdertown are a couple of Lee County’s small unincorporated communities.  Mooar/Powdertown is located just north of Keokuk, along Highway 61 while Croton sits just a few miles south of Farmington near the Avenue of the Saints.

Neither community has a sanitary sewer system, which prompted them to start working with Mount Pleasant-based RUSS (Regional Utility Service Systems) in 2010.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors says it needs more information before signing off on an expansion of the Lee County Correctional Center.

The panel hopes to obtain that information from Midwest Construction Consultants.

The Houghton-based firm oversaw the renovation and expansion of the jail that was completed just a couple years ago.

The board has agreed to pay MCC up to $2,500 to study the need for additional cells and to develop a proposal that includes usage, costs, and timeline.

Jason Parrott’s guest is Ryanne Wood, who is Lee County’s CPC Administrator.  They talk about mental health care reform and what is being proposed in Des Moines by the Iowa Legislature.

Lawmakers are running out of time during the spring session and there is still plenty of work to do in the area of services for those with mental health or other developmental disabilities.

Some of the more common services include one-on-one sessions, drop-in centers or sheltred workshops.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is ready to provide additional coverage to Montrose on a temporary basis.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has signed off on a 28E agreement between the county, sheriff’s office and the city for law enforcement services.

The deal runs from March 14, 2012 to March 13, 2013.

Montrose has been without a police chief since Karl Judd resigned to join the Fort Madison Police Department.  The city’s two reserve officers also resigned around the same time as Judd.

Some residents of the Argyle Sanitation District will be receiving a bill for past due sewer services.

The county says 22 properties are behind in their payments to Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS).

The Mount Pleasant-based organization owns and operates Argyle’s sanitary sewer system.

Lee County has been covering the late fees for months, which has prompted the Board of Supervisors to approve the mailing of bills to delinquent customers.

The supervisors have that authority because they are also serving as the trustees for the sewer district.

Steve Dunn - Daily Gate City

Tyler Hobbs of St. Francisville, MO has been found guilty of 1st Degree Murder in the death of Shawn Wright of Kahoka, MO.

Wright was killed near a farmhouse in rural Lee County on November 6, 2010.  He was hit in the head with a mallet multiple times.

His body was found on November 9, 2010  after being dumped near a levee in Gregory Landing, MO.

The jury of seven women and five men delivered the unanimous verdict to Judge Mary Ann Brown in Iowa District Court at about 2:15 P.M. this afternoon.

The panel deliberated for just over two hours.

Lee County has been called the “Poster Child” for unemployment in Iowa.

Help could be on the way with the possible development of a fertilizer plant, but that would be just the start of what is needed to reverse years of job losses.

A recently-released study highlights the county’s strengths and weaknesses, but taking advantage of that information requires community support and interest.

Phil Chancellor of Keokuk has more free time on his hands now that he has retired after a career in the field of high-tech telecommunications.

Lee County is pledging its support to an effort to land a new industry.

The Board of Supervisors has agreed to meet, or even exceed, the 20% local match required for Iowa Fertilizer Company to receive state funding.

The company is considering the county for a $1.3-billion fertilizer plant.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board has signed off on tax credits and $1.6-million in loans for the project, half of which would be forgiven if certain requirements are met.

LEE COUNTY

The Lee County Board of Supervisors and the union representing employees of the Sheriff’s Office have each signed off on a new two year employment contract.

The deal includes a 3%wage increase on July 1and a 1.5%increase on July 1, 2013.

It also changes holiday pay calculations,requires quicker use of vacation time and increases deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums related to health insurance.

The new contract runs through June 30, 2014.

 

FORT MADISON - SCHOOL

One local mayor says Lee County would be better off making his community the home of county government.

The Park Ridge Workshop complex in Montrose features more than 30,000 square feet of space.

The price tag for the three steel buildings has been reduced to $385,000.

Mayor Bob Reid says they could house the Lee County Conservation and Health Departments as opposed to a brand new building along Highway 61.

In fact, he says the buildings are large enough to handle all of county government, especially with expansion capabilities.

Lee County is looking into whether a construction project is damaging county roads.

Crews are working to raise the levee surrounding the Green Bay Drainage District.

Several residents told the Lee County Board of Supervisors, during this week’s meeting, that some gravel roads are being severely damaged by the heavy equipment needed for the project.

They say the contractor is using a shortcut instead of utilizing off-road opportunities.

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