At the Guthrie County board of supervisors meeting last Tuesday, Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard gave a crash course on how his county passed a bond issue for a new jail.
Guthrie County is in the process of working toward a November vote on a new jail. Leonard’s presentation wasn’t aimed at the supervisors, saying it wasn’t their job to sell the project, but that of Sheriff Marty Arganbright.
But he did say supervisor opposition can sink the project.
After three defeats, Dallas County did hire a pre-bond construction firm (Samuels Group) to provide services and help sell the bond issue.
The key, Leonard said, was voter education. “They need to know everything about everything ... They needed to know how much it was going to cost and why it (the jail) was needed.”
He advised not to let any question go unanswered. “If you say “I don’t know” they’ll think you’re covering something up.”
Leonard said he went out and made some 125 presentations and opened up his jail for tours.
He held up a number of white sheets which he said was Chapter 50 of the Iowa Administrative Code which contain the rules for operating a jail. They symbolized why he needed a new jail and why Arganbright is pressing for one in Guthrie County. “He had a better facility than we have now,” said Arganbright, pointing out the irony that Guthrie County takes its overflow of prisoners there.
Architect Michael Lewis from the Shive Hattery firm was present along with Sid Samuels of the Samuels Group, who has been hired by Guthrie County. Several matters from the last meeting were cleared up.
Lewis said changing the vote on a new jail from his recommended August to November was “absolutely fine.” County facilities manager Brandon Thompson had said earlier he was not being informed. However, he reported that he, Samuels and Lewis had met and they will be keep him informed so he can keep the supervisors abreast. “We had a real good conversation and it cleared up a lot of questions,” said Thompson of the meeting.
Further, a small maintenance building on the courthouse grounds is part of the jail plan; it had not been left out.
Lewis said he didn’t include soil boring at the proposed new jail site prior to the bond issue as a means of saving money. Samuels, however, recommended this take place as a precaution. The location just north of the present courthouse was once the location of a jail.
As it stands Shive Hattery will charge $9,500 for soil testing and a master site evaluation of the entire courthouse grounds for parking and utility purposes. The supervisors will act of this after the county attorney reviews the agreement with the architectural firm.
Budgets - Two department heads explained their requests for budget amendments.
Jotham Arber, director of the transfer station, said he had $123,000 left in his budget while the monthly operating cost is $45,000 or more.
Joe Hanner, Director of the Guthrie County Conservation board, said his agency is desiring to spend $25,873 in the conservation reserve fund and $30,000 in restricted use funds for various purposes including the inspection Raccoon River Valley Trail bridges and patching the trail.
Public hearings on the budget changes will be held April 30.
Arber also reported water quality at the closed county landfill is still checked for levels of lead, arsenic, cobalt and nickel. And, the transfer station had all the necessary permits renewed.