HJ - Standard Page County Courthouse

The Page County Board of Supervisors gave serious consideration at their June 9 meeting to the pros and cons of opening the courthouse to business as usual, before deciding to wait a bit longer.

Jessica Erdman, Page County Public Health administrator, advised the supervisors a new Test Iowa site started at Clarinda Regional Health Center in the last week, and was going well. Erdman said anyone can get a COVID-19 test, they just have to go to testiowa.com online and fill out the questionnaire to be given a choice of time and place. Erdman noted that many businesses and offices were opening and going back to normal, but said she believed there was still a risk in doing so.

The supervisors questioned what services were not being provided during this period of modified operations, and the reward versus the risk of reopening. The supervisors also wanted to be cognitive of what the department heads would prefer, and asked several for their opinions during the meeting.

Page County Treasurer Angie Dow said the main service her office has been unable to provide is driver’s exams. Dow said she had looked into how other counties were handling it, and said elsewhere CDL driver exams had started at the beginning of May, and regular driving exams started a few weeks ago with precautions like masks, gloves and sanitizing. The supervisors decided giving driver exams again might be a decision for Dow’s office to make outside of the rest of the courthouse decision.

Brenda Esaias, Page County recorder, said her office has been making appointments, and doing as much as possible through the mail. They have been screening those people who do come in. Esaias suggested no real changes were needed on her end, and they would prefer to continue making appointments for those who must come in.

As for the rest of the courthouse, methods to open safely, including screening measures, leaving the restrooms closed to the public, keeping the elevator closed or designating an elevator operator and adding a hall monitor were considered. The supervisors also wanted to make sure the courthouse staff had access to personal protective equipment as needed.

Upon further consideration, the supervisors decided the ongoing risk of community spread made it unsafe to go back to business as usual yet. It was suggested the supervisors might tentatively consider a July 1 opening, and reevaluate that date as it approached.

Courthouse operations will continue as they are currently, with screening questions, asking customers to wear masks and taking temperatures at the door.

The supervisors canvassed and approved results from all eight precincts for the June 2 primary.

At the local level, the race to replace Page County Supervisor Jon Herzberg in District 1 is still up in the air, as no candidate reached 35% of the vote. Republican candidate Darin Sunderman came closest, with 731 votes, which was 32.29%. Totals for other Republican candidates were: Jacob Holmes - 618 votes, Bethany Steeve - 444 votes, Mark Marriott - 263 votes and Jeffrey Brownfield - 206 votes. The Republican chair will be notified this race was inconclusive, and county delegates will have to re-convene by Aug. 26 to determine the winner.

District 3 Supervisor Chuck Morris retains his seat, with 1,266 votes, over Judith Kennedy’s 978 votes.

Republican incumbent state Sen. Mark Costello of District 12 defeated Richard Crouch 1,646 to 551, and will face Democrat Joseph Norris, who received 654 votes running unopposed.

In the race for the District 3 U.S. Representative seat, Republican David Young defeated Bill Schafer 1,704 to 539. Young won the primary and will face incumbent Rep. Cindy Axne, who received 707 votes in the county as the only Democrat candidate.

Republican incumbent Joni Ernst received 2,209 votes for U.S. senator and will face Democrat Theresa Greenfield, who received 376 votes. The rest of the Democrat candidates received votes as follows: Kimberly Graham - 126 votes, Michael Franken - 96 votes, Eddie Mauro - 88 votes and Cal Woods - 11 votes.

Republican incumbent state Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, District 24, received 2,105 votes and will face Democrat Chris Adcock, who had 669 votes.

Incumbent Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen received 2,167 votes running unopposed.

Incumbent Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer received 2,190 votes running unopposed.

The supervisors were advised the union contract for dispatch expires on June 30, and plans are in place to roll those employees into the regular personnel policy effective July 1. Wellhausen said one big benefit to employees in the change is that under the union contract only 70% was contributed toward family health insurance by the county, whereas 78% is contributed for regular personnel. The supervisors approved this change.

The supervisors approved signing a three-year renewal of the Cost Advisory Services Inc. contract for fiscal years 2020-2022. Cost Advisory Services looks at general fund funding sources and develops a cost allocation plan based on actual costs incurred. After Cost Advisory Services has prepared and documented their report, the county gets cost allocation back based on their review.

Supervisors discussed the condition of some of the roads south of Highway 2, saying they had received some citizen complaints. The supervisors said they had been requesting more crown on roads for some time, but still weren’t seeing that change.

The supervisors requested a meeting with J.D. King in the next week to talk about blade districts and the experience levels of the blade operators. The supervisors suggested more experienced blade operators might need to be moved to districts that are problem areas.

In other business, the supervisors:

• Approved allowing Gary Rock to replace Marie Compton as Colfax Township Trustee;

• Approved signing the fiscal year 2021 Rural Transit System Joint Participation Agreement with SWITA, at a cost of $6,000 for the county’s share;

• Approved signing NRCS forms for Emergency Water Projects 1 and 4, approving the acquisition of real property rights-of-way, and

• Were told the engineer would advertise Project 1 the next Thursday, and be letting that project July 2nd, and Project 4 sites 9 and 10 could possibly be included and let separately on that same date.

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