USDA gives OK for bids on LCHD/EMS facility

Agency needed final review of construction documents before authorizing


LEE COUNTY – The company heading up the construction of the new Lee County Health Department/EMS building has received an approval to go out for bids on the project.
The USDA has been reviewing some final documentation before authorizing the county to direct Carl A. Nelson out of Burlington to put together bid packages on the project and get them in front of construction companies.
The USDA is using about $3 million in federal funds to help pay for the project under a congressional appropriation secured by Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA)  and through a Rural Emergency Health Care grant. Because the building is being constructed with USDA appropriations, the federal agency had to review construction documents and county financial documents prior to authorizing the bidding process.
The county could have gone out for bids without USDA permission, but that would have all but ruled out the federal assistance on the estimated $5.5 million project.
The county is also using $1 million in remaining ARPA funds, a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant, and more than a half million in funds from the North Lee County Community Foundation.  That figure hasn’t been fully flushed out but Roger Ricketts of the foundation said he has secured at least that much in private investments in the building.
The county was informed in March that the funding from the congressional appropriation had finally been approved by Congress, but the language around the specific funding delayed the USDA moving forward sooner.
The Health Department is currently operating out of the former Iowa State Penitentiary’s John Bennett Center, a facility that is costing the county about $7,500 a month in lease payments and has maintenance issues.
The facility will also provide space for a Fort Madison base of operations for the Lee County EMS facility.
Supervisor Chairman Garry Seyb is requesting an amendment to Monday’s agenda to allow for action on bids, but said he would not be opposed to a special meeting of the board to get formal action on going out for bids on the project.
In a related agenda item, Supervisors will also consider approval for an independent consultant to review the operations of the Lee County EMS service. Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise called for the review about a month ago to see if there were any efficiencies that could be found within the department. Supervisors have expressed concerns about the amount of overtime being spent within the department, but have also praised the operations and how staff has adapted to the closure of Keokuk Blessing Hospital in 2022.

Lee County, Board of Supervisors, Construction, Carl A. Nelson, building, US Deparment of Agriculture, funding, assistance, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, pen City Current, news,


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