BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Current Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers will be joining the Lee County Attorney’s staff beginning March 1.
Lee County Supervisors voted at Tuesday’s regular meeting to bring on Beavers and Fort Madison attorney Kim Auge to be part of the Lee County Attorney’s office.
Beavers has been with the Des Moines County Attorney’s office for more than 20 years and Auge has been in private practice in Fort Madison as well as serving the public defender’s office.
Beavers came under fire from local media after failing to release a video involving Burlington Police officer Jesse Hill who was involved in an officer shooting that killed a Burlington woman. An Iowa judge has ruled that Des Moines County erred in not releasing the video and ordered its release. A portion of the video has since been released, but the case is still pending in front of the Iowa Public Information Board.
Lee County Attorney Ross Braden said he wasn’t fully informed on the case and Beavers’ continuing role, but said she had a very difficult job in Des Moines County and he considers her to be an outstanding attorney.
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“That was a terrible situation and I’ll be the first to say Amy has had a very tough job over the past several years. I don’t know all the factors involved other than what I’ve heard about. But that was a hard call for her to have to make as county attorney as far as releasing the video of that shooting to the public. You’ve got victims on one hand, the desire to back law enforcement on the other. Not to mention the video in itself is very graphic in nature so it would have been a tough call to make. I think she got a bad rap in Des Moines County and I don’t believe that was warranted.”
The salaries for the two will be covered by the $147,000 that is budgeted. Braden said there were some vacation days that need to be paid to retiring assistant attorneys Bruce McDonald and Artemio Santiago. McDonald’s last day is Dec. 31 and will be replaced by Auge on Jan. 1. Beavers will take over for Santiago on March 1. Braden said the difference in the total payroll would be about $21,000.
“I think there was a difference of about $21,000 that I need to make up in my budget. I was able to find a way to make that up because there were items being paid out of the general basic fund that are, by statute, able to be paid out of the supplemental fund. So I was able to find an additional $20,000 there in the existing budget. The extra $1,000 in worst case scenario I will be able to make that up out of our county attorney collections portion. But the way things are going I could still be in the green at the end of the year.”
Braden will also have Jonathan Stensvaag as a full-time county attorney, which will give him a full-time staff of four. Braden was also able to secure a grant in the fall that would pay for a county victim’s advocate position for the staff.
In other action, the board heard from Braden and Lee County Health Department’s Rosa Huykedahl on pending injunctions that are to be filed against six property owners in Mooar/Powdertown. The county has been working for about two and half years under an Iowa Department of Natural Resources mandate to clean up the area around Chatfield Lake. In July, supervisors put residents on notice that additional court filings were coming if steps weren’t taken to rectifiy faulty or inadequate septic systems that were leading to contamination of the lake. In November the county was looking at filing seven, but Huykedahl said one property owner came forward and got a permit and is in the process of repairing.
Braden said the injunctions could force anyone residing in the six properties to cease contaminating the lake, and therefore they wouldn’t be able to live on the property should the injunctions be upheld in court.