BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – There was some talk about a soft opening for county buildings starting June 1, but county officials have decided to keep the public buildings closed for an additional two weeks.
During Tuesday’s regular Lee County Supervisors meeting, the board voted unanimously to keep the status quo with buildings locked to the general public until June 15.
Supervisor Chairman Ron Fedler suggested doing a phased in partial opening by appointment only starting June 2, which is also the day of the Iowa’s primary election.
Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise, who oversees the county’s election process said the June 1 deadline was fine with her, but Lee County Treasurer Chris Spann said she was continuing to do service through appointments only.
“I was going to do appointment-only for the rest of the year,” Spann said. “Some treasurers have said they are never going to open up again to full lines.”
She said residents are doing a lot online and dropping off paperwork by appointment and everything is being mailed out.
“They’re really liking it this way,” Spann said about the customers and the staff.
Supervisor Matt Pflug said he isn’t comfortable opening the public buildings yet and motioned to keep them closed for two more weeks.
Fedler said that would give the county some more time to see how the statewide reopening of the economy will hit Lee County and then supervisors will be better informed when they revisit the issue in two weeks.
Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross said Centers for Disease Control officials are still recommending social distancing strategies.
“You know with people standing in lines, the recommendation would still be to maintain a distance of six feet apart,” Ross said.
“That’s still hard to do with all the openings going on around the county. Some people are trying to do the best they can, but some have already gone back to normalcy of interactions. You have to do your best to protect that six feet distancing. Exposure could occur if you within that level of close contact for 15 minutes or more.”
Lee County Clerk of Court Kim Londrie said the Iowa Judicial Branch is considering keeping clerks’ offices closed until July 13 tentatively.
“We have to be in compliance with the CDC guidelines before the Chief Justice will sign off on us reopening. So we’re waiting on them,” Londrie said.
State criminal court hearings and proceedings are still continuing under measured guidelines, however.
Fedler said the county has ordered a large amount of facemasks for staff and the public, but that supply still hasn’t arrived yet and wouldn’t be in place for the public.
Lee County Conservation Director Nathan Unsworth said the Conservation board is considering opening cabins and public bathrooms, similar to the state park’s reopening last week. He said cabin rentals would be spaced out with a couple days between rentals. No final decision has been made by the district as of this posting however.
In an unrelated item, the board approved a bid from Hometown Heating & Plumbing Co, of Davenport, to replace two boilers at the South Lee County Courthouse at a cost of $249,000. Two subcontractors for the work will be Mohrfeld Electric and Carl A. Nelson, Co.
Fedler, during a workshop following the meeting, asked the board to consider bonding additional funds to do other maintenance including additional repairs and camera upgrades to the Lee County Jail, and work on sidewalks and a retaining wall at the North Lee County Courthouse.
No action was taken on the discussion, but Fedler said he wanted board members to take it into consideration as a future meeting agenda item. He said two current county bonds, one of the Jail and one for the conservation building will be paid off in 2023 and 2025 respectively, which will reduce the tax burden on county residents.
Fedler said he’d like the board to consider a $400,000 bond to do the boilers and the additional jail work and north Lee County courthouse work which he anticipated to be about $50,000.
In other action, the board:
• voted 5-0 to approve the third and final reading of an amended ATV/UTV ordinance removing golf carts from inclusion in the ordinance.
• voted 5-0 to hire a replacement corrections officer at the Lee County Jail.
• voted 5-0 to approve a human resources contract with Lynch Dallas. P.C. of Cedar Rapids.
• heard from Lee County Engineer Ben Hull that the county’s portion of replacing a bridge on the Henry-Lee County will be about $320,000. The cost of the bridge is being shared with Henry County and that county is leading the project. The work is scheduled to be completed by April