LEE COUNTY - The North Lee Community Foundation is stepping in to help make the new Lee County Health Department a reality.
At Monday's regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors Roger Ricketts, Executive Director of the foundation, said the group will be setting up a fund under its umbrella to help raise funds to build the new $5 million facility.
"I was approached by some community members in both communities with information about the new health department building," Rickett's said.
"Those folks asked if the North Lee Community Foundation could be involved in helping raise some additional funds for that building through the charitable sector. We've already received in excess of $100,000 for that new building."
The funds raised will be placed in the Lee County Health Department/EMS building charitable fund.
Ricketts said he met with Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise last week to make sure as a community foundation they could receive and disburse charitable gifts to the county to help with construction costs.
"We expect to work closely with our board and the Keokuk board to continue to raise money to help you build that building and that's why we're here today," Ricketts said.
Ricketts is the Executive Director of the Keokuk Area Community Foundation and North Lee Community Foundation and said the fund will be a non-endowment designated fund established for the sole purpose of receiving charitable contributions, gifts, grants and donations for the construction of the new Lee County Health Department/EMS building.
Ricketts said the foundation will also be paying for the marketing and promotional materials for the new fund out of their operations so every dollar raised will go toward the construction of the new building.
The new building is to be located on Avenue O where the former Iowan property sat. The property was donated to the county by the Glen Meller family and will carry the Meller family name.
County Supervisors have committed to completely fund the new building up to $5.4 million including using the remaining $3.7 million in America Rescue Plan Act funds. The building will be constructed in a Fort Madison Urban Renewal Area and that authorization request was submitted to the city last week.
The remainder of the costs will be from donations, a potential Community Development Block Grant and possibly some debt service if needed. The debt service would come in the form of a reverse referendum that allows the county to issue bonds to cover the costs without a vote of county residents.
If that option is pursued, a public hearing would be held to consider the debt service, as well as a petition option for residents if they choose to force the borrowing onto a ballot.
Anyone wishing to donate to the charitable fund can do so by going to northleecf.org, clicking on the "Donate" button, which will pull up a list of current funds under the Foundations' umbrella. Then simply click on the "Donate" button next to the Lee County Health Department/EMS Building fund to make the donation.
The link wasn't currently active as of this posting, but should be active by Wednesday according to foundation officials.
The funds raised in the trust will be payable from the foundation directly to the county for costs associated with the construction of the building, according to Ricketts.
Ricketts said one of his motivations was that during the pandemic, he contacted the Health Department to see how the foundation could help. He said the staff was so easy to work with and helpful that he made a vow to himself that if there was ever a way to help the Lee County Health Department, he wanted to do that.
"That opportunity came about when some folks came to me and said, 'We're going to build this building on Avenue O, would the Community Foundation help us raise some money,' and we said yes."
In other action, supervisors:
• approved a guarantee with Great River Regional Waste Authority to provide about a half a million dollars to oversee monitoring the landfill in the event it would ever close. Board Chairman Matt Pflug said recent improvements and plans will add about 140 additional years to lifespan of the landfill.
• discussed amending a sign-on bonus for EMS employees to include incorporating a relocation bonus as part of the current sign-on bonus program.
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