Supervisors discuss mental health services, hear land proposal from WEDC for Public Safety Center

by Bob Beach


During public comment time at the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, December 9, the Board discussed the continuing statewide shortage of in-patient mental health services, particularly short-term beds for patient stabilization in emergencies. Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer said that the shortage of crisis stabilization beds has been a problem for many years and nothing has been done to address the problem. He said that he believes that Iowa counties need to push the state legislature to provide additional funding to address the problem. "Someone needs to take the lead on this," he said. "Why not us?"

He asked Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler to draft a resolution for the Board's approval to petition the State for additional funding for crisis stabilization beds. The resolution could then be passed on to the other 98 counties to put pressure on the state legislature and draw public attention to the problem, Schellhammer said.

During regular business, the Board met with Joe Cunningham, Howard Van Ruler and Irv Fosaaen, all board members of Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), who encouraged the Board to consider building the proposed County Public Safety Center in the Waukon Industrial Park on the south edge of Waukon. Fosaaen said that, with the Waukon City Council's approval, WEDC would donate a building lot near the construction site of the new fire station on 11th Avenue SW.

Cunningham said that the main benefit to the County of building the new Public Safety Center within Waukon city limits, rather that at the former Makee Manor location as proposed, would be the availability of the connection to City utilities. He said that water and sanitary sewer services at the proposed Makee Manor site would entail both initial and continuing maintenance costs which could prove to be a significant expense when compared with the cost of city utilities. He also noted that natural gas would be significantly cheaper than the liquid propane to be used at the proposed Makee Manor location.

Chairman Schellhammer said that the Board would present WEDC's proposal to the Public Safety Center Committee for review and request a recommendation.

The Board also met with Allamakee County Courthouse Head Custodian John Roe, who proposed building a small storage shed on the southwest side of the courthouse to house records currently stored at Makee Manor, along with some maintenance equipment. He presented the Board with two bids for the construction project, which the Board agreed to review.

In a related matter, the Board agreed to raise Roe's salary to $30,000 annually as agreed after completion of his boiler certification.

The Board also met with Jon Luchsinger from the Auditor's Office, who presented the Board with the results of a survey of department heads regarding software that would facilitate online applications for various types of permits. He said that most department heads indicated that they would use the software if it were made available. The Board agreed to consider purchase of the software during the budget process for the coming fiscal year.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer asked for and received the Board's permission to establish a flex spending account at Waukon State Bank in connection with the County's new health insurance policy. Beyer also told the Board that the County could submit a "hardship application" to Alliant Energy to prevent the courthouse electricity billing from moving into another billing category because of decreased usage, noting that the decreased usage was a result of the County's participation in Alliant's own energy efficiency programs.

In other business, the Board approved hiring Jason Howes as a full-time case manager starting January 5, 2015 at $15.75 per hour. The Board also approved the budget and a $46,299 grant application for substance abuse prevention as well as an application for the expansion of the Hideaway Hills mobile home park.

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