Supervisors hear funding requests from county libraries and other area agencies, discuss announcement of RAGBRAI coming to Allamakee County

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, January 23 to address various topics. Among those topics were updates and funding requests from county libraries, the Northeast Iowa Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC).

During the Public Comments portion of the meeting, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed the route announcement from the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) that will include an overnight stop in Waukon and the event concluding with a stop in Lansing in late July of this year. Snitker commented that regionally there will be a lot going on with Nordic Fest taking place in Decorah and RAGBRAI traveling through Allamakee County that same weekend.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour indicated that he was contacted by RAGBRAI for some preliminary information prior to the announcement and that he believes the ride route will focus on County roads rather than State roads. Schellhammer indicated that the RAGBRAI route will be a great way to showcase Allamakee County.

Allamakee County Coordinator of Disability Services Kim Waters provided an overview of the County Social Services (CSS) meeting agenda for the meeting scheduled to take place Wednesday, January 25. Waters discussed the CSS Vice Chair vacancy and thanked Supervisor Dennis Koenig for putting his name in for nomination for that position. Waters advised that CSS has continued to evolve organizationally and that some aspects of her position are yet to be completely defined.

Director of the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library Derva Burke, New Albin Public Library Director Lisa Fruechte and board member Dorothy Delphey of the Dolores Tillinghast Memorial Library in Harpers Ferry were present to provide library updates and discuss County library funding. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer advised that County libraries received a total of $122,277.37 in County funding during Fiscal Year 2016-2017 and an increase of $3,125 has been proposed for a total of $125,403.27 for Fiscal Year 2017-2018. This funding is based on a $3,500 base amount multiplied by the percentage of population for the libraries in Harpers Ferry, Lansing, New Albin, Postville, Waterville and Waukon. The library representatives thanked the Supervisors for conducting meetings at each of the libraries throughout the county this past year and recommended doing the same this year.

Burke discussed that the library in Lansing has continued to assist former employees of the now closed Blumenthal Lansing plant as a meeting place and with job postings and referrals. Burke advised that Lansing will be celebrating its Sesquicentennial this year and the library will be having programs in honor of that occasion.

Director of the Northeast Iowa Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Kathy Barloon provided an overview of the program and the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 funding request. For 2015-2016, RSVP involved 303 volunteers with 27,991 hours of service for a value of service to northeast Iowa of $622,535.72. Barloon said the RSVP program involves volunteers age 55 and over residing in Allamakee, Howard and Winneshiek counties, with an average age of 73 for those volunteers.

Volunteers assist with a variety of projects including the Community Connections After School Program, home delivered meals, Allamakee Food Shelf and Postville Food Pantry, nursing home visitors, Life Serve Blood Drive and tax assistance for low income, middle income and elderly individuals. Barloon thanked the Supervisors for the County's past support of $2,000 and requested the same amount for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year.

Executive Director Mary Ann Humpal with Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) provided an overview of the organization's services and funding request. Humpal advised that 652 households and 1,711 individuals in Allamakee County were served by NEICAC in 2016, numbers that do not reflect the Health Services and Transit programs also provided by the organization. NEICAC's total funding request for 2017-2018 is $47,429. Humpal further discussed NEICAC's economic impact with 44 Allamakee County residents employed by the organization and that NEICAC has brought $1,458,206 in funds into Allamakee County in 2016, including payroll and County programs.

Under Department Head Updates, Snitker further discussed the severe weather forecast indicating snow Tuesday and Wednesday this week. He further advised that flood disaster projects have been identified, paperwork has been sent in to respective agencies and progress continues to move forward. Snitker advised that the Fish and Wildlife Service is working on the Big Slough Mississippi River clean-up project funding and planning with another government agency. He said that he will be following up at month's end with Fish and Wildlife, but the winter months are limiting progress on this project and what can be accomplished outdoors.