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WASHINGTON – It was an offer not to refuse: a $680,000 assessed site for $50,000 and in a 4-1 vote Tuesday, May 2, the Washington County Board of Supervisors said yes to obtaining the property at 302 West Main Street. In a four to one vote (with Abe Miller opposed), the board accepted the offer made by the owner for the house and lot just north slightly west of the county courthouse, instructing the county auditor to proceed with the necessary steps for the private sale with the owner.
In explaining the offer, Auditor Dan Widmer explained that the site “fits in well with present needs of the county,” especially the possibility of making it into a parking area for anyone having business at the courthouse. He said that the owner approached the county with the price.
While he did not disagree with the site’s potential use, Supervisor Miller raised concerns regarding the county owned former jail property that houses the communications center that also has been discussed as a possible parking area. He also asked if that should not come first, regarding use of taxpayer funds.
However, Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. noted the possible greater value of the former jail for a new communications center, and the value of the proposed land purchase being “right across the street” from the courthouse. Chairman Richard Young added that the old jail is also where the communications tower is and there have been discussions about keeping the site for a building.
The board also discussed prohibition of tobacco use on county property (which would later include 302 West Main), learning that the enforcement of no smoking regulations is a state matter, enforced by the state Department of Public Health.
County Attorney John Gish advised against seeking a county ordinance more restrictive than the state law which provides up to a $150 fine for repeated violations. Gish added that any who dispute the citation could also receive a $60 court fee plus at least an initial $50 fine if they lose the case.
Instead, the board agreed it needed to post “no smoking” signs, which include prohibiting electronic cigarettes, and to see about obtaining the signs from the state Public Health office.
In other business, the board:
•approved the fiscal 2018 fuel contract with Cobb Oil of Brighton for a total annual fee of $1,319. Cobb is the current supplier and County Engineer Jacob Thorius said “we have been happy with their service. The other bid, from Agriland FS, based in Winterset, was $3,582 for the same gas and diesel fuels;
•approved a permanent easement with Tobias E. and Nona A. Miller for purchase of two acres of land for public highway use at 110th Street and Locust Avenue at a cost of $238.75;
•approved hiring summer interns for Secondary Roads, for May 8 through mid-August: Caleb Statler, new, $10 per hour; Blake Dwight Weidman, returning for second year, $12.10 hourly, and Hunter Bell, ISU student, $12.10;
•approved a pay increase for Jayse Horning, Conservation Board, per agreement for his completion of the Ranger- Technician certification at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, from $19 to $19.50 per hour. Horning also will be on-call with the sheriff ’s department at $12 per hour;
•approved a correction wine liquor license for Revasser Winery, Ainsworth for Class C, not B, from last week;
•received a county recycling update from Lynn Whaley of WEMIGA showing 37.81 tons of trash received in April, compared to 8.16 tons in March, an expected increased for spring. He said there were few times and very little oil, and the board discussed buying trash containers rather than renting them, a cost-saving move. Further information will be at a subsequent meeting;
•approved the labor agreement with the sheriff ’s deputies, etc. Union #238; and
•held a closed session to discuss records mandated by the state or federal government to keep confidential.