Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

Construction manager hopes to award bids in April for law enforcement center

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News | Oct 06, 2017

John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants hopes excavation work can be seen and hammers heard at the county law enforcement center/jail by mid-spring of 2018.

Hansen, construction manager for the project, said at Thursday’s board of supervisors meeting that he hoped plans were finished in late winter for an early spring bid letting. “The goal is to get a good set of plans done in February,” he said “I would like to get this (solicitation of bids) out in February or March and award the bids in April.”

During the meeting, supervisors also approved the architectural contract with Rick Weidner & Associates of Bennington, Neb. Weidner will be paid $465,000 for his work plus reimbursable expenses not to exceed $10,000.

Hansen said he is allowing a budget of $7.6M for construction costs. The bond referendum passed by county voters in August caps the expenditure at $9.1M.

There still is some question on the site of the facility. Supervisors would like to build it on state-owned land northwest of the former Mental Health Institute. The Iowa Department of Corrections Board of Directors is meeting today and Henry County’s request is on the agenda so the county may know today if the land is available.

“There is a lot of stuff for the board to do as we move forward,” Hansen said as he and Weidner left to meet with Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee to begin preliminary discussions on the center.

Thursday was also a department head meeting. Walt Jackson, director of emergency management, said several county fire departments will have a controlled burn this month of a house on Quincy Avenue. He also said there will be an active shooter training seminar for county law enforcement officials Oct. 24-26, conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Henry County Conservation Director John Pullis informed department heads that campgrounds and the Oakland Mills Nature Center will close for the season Oct. 25. The department’s annual Night Hike will be Monday, Oct. 23, from 6-7:30 p.m.

Kristi Ray, executive vice president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, briefed the board on county tourism and also requested $10,000 in funding for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which was granted.

Ray said she has overhauled the tourism budget. “When I came here and looked at the budget, I became concerned about the money spent for salaries as opposed to the money spent for marketing.” She said about 70 percent of the budget was for salaries and the expenditures (salaries and marketing) should be reversed.

“We are going to have a reallocation of expenses next year. I want to spend more money on marketing,” she noted.

The tourism department spent nearly $18,000 in 2016 and the 2017 budget includes just over $15,000 in expenses.

Tourism services planned for the future include:

• Expand the popular tourism grant program to assist more area groups in attracting visitors to the county.

• Do a mass mailing/marketing effort to area trade associations, touting Henry County as a destination for small regional conferences.

• Market our services to class reunions, family reunions, weddings and other events that might attract visitors to the area.

• Continue promoting Henry County at the Iowa State Fair.

• Support the efforts of area P.E.O. groups to plan and implement day trips from Des Moines (to Mt. Pleasant) during the annual P.E.O. Conference in 2018.

In remaining business, the board passed a resolution, designating October as Domestic Awareness Month in Henry County. Officials from the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in Iowa City said 68 Henry County residents were served by the program last year. The program provides a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, emergency advocacy, trauma-informed support, counseling and youth services.

The Henry County office is located at 101 S. Cherry St., Mt. Pleasant. Phone number for the office is 319-850-8518. The phone number for the emergency shelter which is located in Iowa City is 319-351-1043.

Supervisors meet again in regular session Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 9 a.m. in the Henry County Courthouse.

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