By Jim Magdefrau
VINTON – Budget work continued for the Benton County Board of Supervisors at their Feb. 1 meeting at the service center in Vinton. They also worked on land use.
Budget requests for next year were presented for the volunteer program, Benton Development Group (BDG) and historic preservation.
Melissa Able-Croy presented the request for the volunteer program. She was joined by Wayne Parizek, Belle Plaine. They are funded through grants and private donations, as well as cities and the county. Able-Croy explained they provide free medical transportation to elderly and under-served residents in Benton County. They also provide three annual food programs to residents, including a summer backpack program for students. They have a project group that sews pillows for heart and cancer patients, and works with residents at nursing homes. Parizek explained the finances for the volunteer program. He stressed the county’s contribution helps as leverage in getting grants.
“Outstanding” said Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman of what the volunteer program does for Benton County residents.
Dave Fish and Kate Robertson met with the board on BDG. Robertson said they have had a lot of businesses open in the county’s smaller downtowns, from coffee shops to hatchet throwing and bakeries. BDG received two catalyst grants for $100,000 for redevelopment in two communities. These include a taproom in Atkins, with apartments on top. Belle Plaine is working on four upstairs living apartments with a pizza/deli on the first floor. They worked on a brownfield rehab at the former braille school. BDG also has a two-year agreement with Iowa County, starting June 1. Robertson will oversee both counties. They are working to get an assistant. They now have an office in Belle Plaine. There is also an office at the outlet mall in Iowa County. They have a new website and a new logo. She said they also have a good partnership with the state.
Fish, who is president of BDG, explained the concept of Benton and Iowa County working together. He said their realization as been that they are looked upon as the fringe of the I-380 corridor. The idea of rural counties such as Benton and Iowa Counties, working together to bring more businesses to this area, makes sense. Businesses that open in Iowa County provides jobs for people in Benton County, as well as businesses in southern Benton County providing jobs to people from Iowa County.
He credited Robertson for doing a great job and works hard to bring development to Benton County and to help small businesses get started.
He said it’s tax money being well spent to bring businesses to the counties.
Robertson said the ultimate goal is to shine a light on rural development.
Phil Borleske and Allison Hicks of Benton County Historic Preservation presented their request. Hicks gave an update on a camp workshop in April. It will be an online camp, due to health concerns.
A land use hearing was set for Tuesday, March 1, at 9:15 a.m. for HGP LLC for land in Section 34, Benton Township.
A farm exemption was approved for Brad Hackett for land in Section 36, Polk Township. Hackett now lives in Independence. He plans to build living quarters onto a pole building on land he owns.
In other business, the board approved the Title VI Non-Discrimination Agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation. At the close of the meeting, there was talk about when the clock tower would be fixed.