Benton County awaits court ruling on tests and vaccinations of employees

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – The Benton County courthouse officials are awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on how it will handle vaccination and testing mandates of its employees, as required by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The board met with Kirsten Nelson, human resources for Benton County, at their meeting Tuesday, Jan. 4, at the service center in Vinton. The Supreme Court ruling is expected on Friday.

If the mandate is upheld, the county will have to collect vaccination status data and provide it to OSHA, should OSHSA request it. It could also lead to masking requirements.

Nelson said if this happens, she will need help from department heads on corralling the information on who is vaccinated and not vaccinated. She might also need help on getting weekly testing data from those who are not vaccinated.

She stressed to she wanted to put these possibilities on the board’s radar. Decisions will have to made. Nelson emphasized she was just the messenger on this.

There were questions on getting test kits, home tests, observing the tests, the cost of the tests and who pays for the tests.

Nelson hopes to work with Heartland on risk management and how to develop a policy on this.

She plans to meet again with the board next week on the impact of the upcoming ruling.

Scott Hansen, Benton County Emergency Management, pointed out many large corporations have religious exemptions on the vaccines. He asked if this was going to be allowed for county employees. Nelson said she assumes they are allowing the choice of the vaccine or getting tested. She stressed these are assumptions.

Nelson also gave an update on the wellness program.

Other business

The second reading of the ordinance on the redrawn supervisor districts was approved, after a public hearing was held. There was no public response.

Mona Onken met regarding the mental health fund balance project proposal.

Hawkeyes Area Community Action Program met regarding the 2022 budget.

Mindy Icenbice was appointed as medical examiner investigator.

There was also conversation on office space at the Benton County Service Center.

Meeting Link

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, meeting

It was the third straight day for meetings of the Benton County Board of Supervisors, as they focused on budget work for the next fiscal year at the Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, meeting at the Benton County Service Center, Vinton.

Budget work included the treasurer, veterans affairs and transportation. They plan to have a hearing on the budget in March. 

Veterans affairs discussion also included a vehicle and a resolution regarding upkeep of graves.

The board also continued to make appointments to various offices, boards and committees. These included Pioneer Cemetery Commission, county health board, Heartland safety coordinator, solid waste commission, eminent domain for agricultural property, and assistant county engineer.

The third and final reading was also approved on redistricting for the supervisors. The board then approved the ordinance.


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