County moves forward on looking for HR director

Benton County Service Center

Board also hears about street project, magistrate commission and dairy expansion

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – Road work, land use, dairy expansion and the county magistrate commission were the main topics for the Benton County Board of Supervisors at their meeting, March 16, at county service center in Vinton.

61st Street project

Wayne Siela met with the board regarding the 61st Street advisory committee. He discussed road specifications. Supervisor Gary Bierschenk agreed the road needs to be wider, and work needs to be done before houses are built next to it. Siela also talked about possibly hiring an engineering firm to do a survey. Siela has contacted Shive-Hattery.

They also discussed easements and right of way. Siela hoped to have the board use this plan as a preliminary guide. They also talked about it as a possible city/county project. Siela has met with the city manager on this. County Engineer Myron Parizek discussed funding and costs. Parizek added that his office would not have time to do the surveying and engineering due to the amount of projects he has.

Board members recommended meeting with the council, as well as the school board and property owners along the street. There is also a question on how they are going to pay for it, as well as who pays for the engineering costs. Board member Richard Primmer felt Siela had brought good recommendations, but guidance will be needed from the engineer. Board chairman Tracy Seeman said they need to get all of the people together to discuss it.

Siela asked if the board was not interested in funding the preliminary estimate. When the board indicated they were not, Siela said he was disappointed, but he would work on setting up a meeting. The tentative date is March 25, at the school cafeteria.

Land use and DNR

A land use hearing was set for April 13 at 9:15 a.m. for Mark Denny, for land in Section 36, Cedar Township.

Authority was given to the land use office to set a hearing for proposed dairy expansion for GenoSource LLC, Blairstown. They are looking to have 5,530 animal units. They now have 2,850 units. This is according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) master matrix review program. A hearing will be set according to DNR requirements. Supervisor Gary Bierschenk observed this is “quite an increase.”

Produce Partners

Greg Walston met with the board with an update on Old School Produce Partners, and proposed a lease agreement of five years. The agreement was approved by the board. They had been operating on a one-year agreement.

Magistrate commission

Mary Ann Blumer and Elaine Harrington were appointed to the magistrate commission. Former commission member Jim Magdefrau was appointed as an alternate, if it is allowed. Benton County Attorney David Thompson recommended keeping Harrington and Blumer on the commission for gender balance, according to the Iowa Code 69.16A. Also on the commission are Bob Fischer, elected by the Benton County Bar Association, and Judge Sean McPartland, who heads up the commission. The Bar Association used to choose two members. Since they chose only one attorney, the county may appoint only two lay people. For gender balance, it should be two females. Thompson explained. “That’s what the law says,” Thompson explained.

Human Resources Study Committee

Thompson updated the board on creating a human resources position. The committee meeting on this recommended a full-time director of human resources. Thompson said the cost for a qualified person would be in the range of $65,000 to $75,000. Roles might be updating the employee handbook, union negotiations, tracking benefits, insurance, keep track of federal and state statutes, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), Americans with Disabilities Act work, discrimination, civil rights violations, and safety coordination. He added the committee felt all departments needed to be on board with the creation and support of this position. Suitable office space would be needed, and the research committee felt it was important that it not be located in the courthouse. The position would answer to the supervisors. Thompson recommended advertising this for 30 days, and appoint a hiring committee to meet with applicants.

The board approved setting up the hiring committee, which is the current study committee, and hiring of the human resources director. Seeman abstained since he is on the committee. The deadline would be April 19 for applications.

“I think this will be a very good thing for Benton County, but like anything else, it costs money to do these things,” Thompson concluded.

Other business

An amendment to the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) and Iowa Child Welfare Decategorization (Decat) contract was discussed, adding more spending authority. – YouTube video of meeting.

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