County considers increasing law enforcement for Atkins

Benton County Service Center

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – With growth comes the need for more law enforcement.

The Benton County Board of Supervisors tabled action on the contract with the City of Atkins.

John Lindaman of the sheriff’s department reported that with the growth in Atkins, 18 hours of law enforcement each week is not enough. They would like 40 hours a week. Lindaman said they explained that 40 hours a week means being able to pay for one deputy sheriff. This way the county would not be excessively donating to the City of Atkins, and they can pay their own way. Lindaman added they have also explained they are at the point they need their own police department. “Once you have over 2,000 residents, you’re kind of entering that atmosphere,” Lindaman explained.

This is on the agenda for the next council meeting to approve the proposal.

In answer to a question from Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman, Lindaman said this means the sheriff will hire another deputy after July 1, and pay for that with the Atkins contract. Seeman also asked if it would be smart to have the deputy reside in Atkins. Lindaman said they haven’t worked that out on having an officer assigned or have multiple deputies rotate through.

Lindaman said, “This issue we have with these contract towns is that every contract town wants law enforcement in there at the same time. Every town wants officers there at 3:30 in the afternoon for the school kids racing through town. They want them there at 7:30 in the morning for the school kids racing through town. It’s just kind of hard to schedule.”

Lindaman also said this would be a way that dedicates an officer in Atkins, because they’re paying for it.

Lindaman also presented the contract between the sheriff and the union. Highlights included a change in sick leave. There was discussion on health insurance. No action was taken. Formal approval is planned later.

In other law enforcement matters, Heather Baker was hired as a part-time jailer. She has experience in Warren County, moved to this area and works for Belle Plaine Ambulance.

Other business

Ben Bonar met with the board regarding the weed department and its separation from secondary roads. He said there are a few things to hash out regarding working hours and staffing. The board felt Bonar could set the hours since he is the department head. He also talked about seeding for roadside vegetation. He plans to have quarterly updates with the board. He also asked about using the old transportation building for an office. He and the board also looked at flooding concerns with the old office.

A utility permit was approved for East Central Iowa REC for Kane Township, west of Keystone.

Adam Rodenberg met with the board regarding the Middle Cedar Watershed Management Authority.

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