By Jim Magdefrau
VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors again brought up the topic of making the county a sanctuary county for the Second Amendment.
Again, it brought up debate, at the Tuesday, Oct. 12, meeting of the supervisors at the service center in Vinton.
The resolution passed unanimously after discussion.
Tom Boeckmann, Vinton, talked about the board upholding the Constitution of Iowa, and the Constitution of the United States. He stressed the Second Amendment is different from the other amendments in that it states it “shall not be infringed.” He said there have been efforts to infringe this in Benton County, in how handgun permits are issued, and a ban on possession of weapons on county property.
Since the posting of a previous meeting online, Boeckmann said Benton County has become “viral,” and it’s caught the attention of the national headquarters of the National Rifle Association.
He felt an outburst at that prior meeting was an embarrassment to the taxpayers and government of Benton County.
“There is not a question that our rights are being infringed upon,” Boeckmann said. He felt it was important that county boards take this seriously and understand the will of the people.
“I believe it’s the right thing to do. It makes a stand. It tells your constituents that you do have their best interest at heart, and that Benton County shall be a county in which the constitution is important.” He urged the board to pass the resolution.
Bill Keller is a local firearms instructor. He said he appreciates the efforts of the board, and found it sad that they had to do this. He said it has become a political chip. He stressed possessing a weapon is a natural right.
Supervisor Richard Primmer said he checked with the county attorney and with Heartland Insurance. He said this is the Second Amendment. Some might think it is a waste of time to have the discussion, but it is important that the board lets people know where the board stands.
Primmer then said he’d second the motion made two weeks before by Supervisor Gary Bierschenk.
County Attorney David Thompson asked if there was going to be discussion.
Thompson said there is a lot of misinterpretation on what he was doing at the meeting two weeks ago. “There’s nothing illegal about this,” he said, but told the board of the resolution, “but your guys’ form stinks, when you jump in and do stuff without allowing people to actually have a say in it. That’s my point. And we’re doing it again?”
Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman said his concern was that if they pass the resolution, it doesn’t mean people can come into the courthouse or service center with a gun. The resolution just confirms the Second Amendment.
Thompson said he has two issues with this, and it’s not the Second Amendment. His issues two weeks before was that he hadn’t had a chance to read it, and then there was an immediate motion to approve it, even though it was on the agenda as a discussion item. Thompson was also concerned people will see the resolution as a right to carry a weapon into a county building.
There is nothing illegal about the resolution, Thompson stressed. If it passes, it needs to be done without fear mongering. He pointed to Chapter 331 of the Iowa Code on the role of the county board. If the board follows this chapter, the Second Amendment is alive and well. The board could decide to not pass the resolution and still be a big supporter of the U.S. Constitution.
Thompson stressed he was for proper procedure in the board room and how the county governs itself.
The board then unanimously approved the resolution.
A farm exemption was approved for Matt and Johnna Rathje for land in Section 35, Eldorado Township. They plan to build a new home on land owned by Matt’s parents. It was approved by the board.
The board acknowledged the resignation of Alex Maynard in the treasurer’s office.
The board approved the bid and purchase from Thys Automotive for the MH/DD vehicle for the behavioral specialist.
The board acknowledged the resignation of Aaron Kisner from the Benton County Pioneer Cemetery Commission.
The board discussed the replacement for township clerk for Taylor Township and trustee for Union Township. Chuck Yedlik was approved as clerk for Taylor. Matt Garbers was appointed as trustee for Union.
The board approved the hiring of James Kane, equipment operator, in secondary roads.
Engineer Myron Parizek gave an update on bridge and culvert repair. End posts needed to be poured on the bridge north of Blairstown. Work could be done by the end of this week. The culvert north of Luzerne could take four to five weeks. Bierschenk also asked about the condition of the gravel road south of Highway 218.