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Lee County Conservation to Get New Building

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has agreed to borrow up to $510,000 to help pay for a new building for the Conservation Department.

The new building would replace the nearly 60-year-old farmhouse the department has been using for about 20 years. 

That building is currently out of commission due to a lightning strike in late April, forcing employees to work out of a nearby trailer.

The Lee County Conservation Board considered repairing the old building before eventually deciding to seek a new building.  That effort now has the backing of the County Board.

Board Vice Chairman Matt Pflug said the new building, which will feature a nature center and better access to the Mississippi River, is long overdue.

"These have been the types of things that we have been slow moving on," said Pflug.  "At some point, you have to take action and if we had taken action 20 years ago, this (building) would have been paid for."

Lee County will increase property taxes for the next ten years to repay the loan.

For example, the owner of a $130,000 home in Keokuk or Fort Madison will pay an extra $3/year.

The new building is expected to cost about $650,000.  The county will get money from its insurance company and will seek donations on top of the borrowed money.

Supervisor Gary Folluo cast the lone no vote.  He would rather spend about $75,000 to repair the current building.

A public hearing prior to the vote lasted about one hour with a handful of residents speaking out against the plan.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.