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Supervisors look at succession, law enforcement and nepotism

VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors dealt with the order of succession in case of an emergency at its meeting Aug. 4 in Vinton.

According to board minutes, Scott Hansen, Emergency Management Coordinator, met with the board to discuss further the order of succession for decision-making in the event of an emergency. Hansen previously requested that the supervisors adopt an order of succession, which states the decision-making authority in the event the board of supervisors is unavailable. The order provides that one of the supervisors would have authority to make decisions, then in the following order – sheriff, auditor, treasurer, attorney. The authority to make decisions would include making decisions to spend county resources. The supervisors agreed that if they weren’t able to make that decision, then instead of the authority resting with just one person, it needs to say at least two elected officials should have to make the decisions. Hansen agreed to make the necessary changes.

Rob Peck, Design Dynamics, discussed the quotes that were earlier submitted for geo-technical services and reports relative to the law enforcement center. He recommended the board go with Team Services. They awarded the quote to Team Services for geo-technical services to the law enforcement center.

Jerry Petermeier, project coordinator, updated the board with the street boring issue for the communications cables. Forsyth also discussed the idea of possibly hooking into the City of Vinton’s electrical plants generator. The building was moved Wednesday, August 5, 2009.

The board discussed the county’s nepotism policy. April Saunders and LaDonna Rouse were both present along with Sheriff Forsyth and Deputy Ferguson. Saunders stated that she can’t marry the father of her baby unless she quits her job. Ferguson told the board how hard it is to find good dispatchers, and with the current nepotism policy, they have to turn them away. As an example, a reserve deputy who works one day a week has a daughter wanting to work for the department. She was very qualified for the position, but they had to turn her down. The auditor has advised the board that if they are to amend the policy, they will need to have all department heads agree to the change, otherwise it will only affect those departments that are underneath the supervisors. It was agreed to hold a department head meeting at a later date to further discuss this subject.

Sheriff Randy Forsyth discussed the clarification on the sheriff’s union contract. It was brought to his attention that the vacation days were accrued after an employee’s anniversary date. But the new contract went into place July 1, 2009, so those that fell before that day have to wait until their next anniversary date before getting those additional days, and those that fell after received them. Currently there are employees with less employment time receiving more vacation time then those with more employment time. After researching this, the board agreed to leave it as it’s always been followed in the past. July 1 is the date when the contract goes into place, so they will have to wait until their anniversary date.

Marc Greenlee, Land Use Administrator, presented an application for a farm exemption submitted by Jake Nolan. Greenlee advised that the applicant is actively engaged in family farming. The board approved the farm exemption requested by Nolan as authorized under the Benton County Agricultural Land Use Preservation Ordinance on a parcel located in the Section 26 of Fremont Township, as the applicant is involved in the production of corn and soybeans.

The board approved 16 hours of vacation carry-over requested by Pam Gorsch, to be used no later than November 1, 2009.

The board approved a utility permit requested by Poweshiek Water Association to place utility lines in the county’s right-of-way in sections 11 to 2 of Fremont Township along 69th Street.

The board appointed Medical Examiner Investigator Ann Schott.

Brenda Sutton of the auditor’s office spoke to the board about the landscaping materials left behind at the law enforcement center. They would be used around the courthouse premises. She will contact the County Conservation department to see if they would want any of the unused materials. The board advised Sutton to get bids on the cost of the tree removal and other expenses and to move forward with this project.

Terry Johnson with Genesis Development provided an update on services being provided by his organization. Johnson reported that Benton County is growing in the number of clients being served. They are also serving Poweshiek County out of the Belle Plaine office.

Mary Halstead, transportation director, informed the board that the new vehicle they purchased was in. She also ordered two new buses, that are expected to come in after the first of the year using the stimulus package funds. Transportation has a driver quitting in September, but Halstead thinks they can re-arrange all other employees schedules to get along without a replacement.

Chuck James, VA director, met with the board to give the Veterans Affairs update. He is moved into his new office space at the ICUS building and said things were going well. He has his new equipment and phone lines are up and running. He is currently working on setting up privacy settings. He will be traveling to Des Moines for a weeklong training certification in October.

The board rescinded action on the decision to have Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 be the day to make a decision on vacating a road in Iowa Township. It was changed to Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009.

UPDATED August 12, 2009 9:39 AM

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