Grand jury has annual meeting with supervisors

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – The Benton County Grand Jury and the Benton County Board of Supervisors met at the regular meeting of the supervisors on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at the Benton County Service Center Conference Room, Vinton.

The supervisors gave an overview of county activities for the grand jury. The jury tour of county facilities was guided by County Attorney Ray Lough.

Lough explained to the grand jury that the supervisors have a lot of hearings, such as land use change requests. They also deal with budget issues and hiring. This all goes through Auditor Hayley Rippel, who schedules it for the supervisors. Some meetings are not open to the public regarding legal action and employment.

Supervisor Richard Primmer explained that the supervisors moved to the service center about three years ago. It was nice to have a space in the courthouse since all of the offices are there, but there was more room at the service center. The old office space is now used by the state for juvenile court.

Scheduled meetings are once a week on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. However, Primmer stressed there is more than meeting once a week. Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman explained the supervisors are on a lot of boards. Seeman is on the conservation board, landfill board, East Central Iowa Council of Governments Board, Iowa Housing Trust Fund, E-911, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund committee and other boards.

Seeman explained the latest communication effort with the county getting new towers near Norway, Vinton and Rodgers Park. They are also beefing up the current towers. They are switching from antennas to microwave for communication. Surrounding counties have already made the change. This will allow agencies to communicate with each other. They have be on line by January 1, 2024.

Rippel explained how the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is being used for records. Seeman added conservation is getting updates to their park facilities.

Primmer said conservation is also working to expand the county’s Wildcat Park, with the help of the Heritage Foundation.

Lough explained the use of opioid settlement money.

Rippel added they are also looking for grants to save money for taxpayers.

Human Resources

The board acknowledged the resignation of Kirsten Nelson as human resource director. Her last day is April 14. Supervisor Primmer said the county should keep the human resources department going and that the director should have an assistant. Rippel was concerned about the possible to burden taxpayers for two positions. She prefers to have this work go through the auditor’s office, like it used to, and outsource the work as needed.

Supervisor Gary Bierschenk felt the county should first hire someone and then see if part-time help is needed. No action was taken. The matter will be placed on a future agenda.


A utility permit was approved for USA Communications in St. Clair Township

A resolution was approved on a wage and classification change for Cody Mattison. His pay was increased to $25.30 per hour as of April 10. His classification is 5B. It was 5A.

Discussion was held on the Local Option and Sales and Services Tax and SF 550. This is regarding a bill that eliminates the local sales tax and creates a statewide 1-cent tax. It is now used for property tax relief, emergency services, fire departments, ambulances, public libraries, secondary road improvements and conservation parks. The supervisors supported the resolution to keep the current sales tax.

Engineer Myron Parizek also gave an update on the Urbana roundabout so the Department of Transportation can do construction. They hope to be done in two weeks. Work starts April 17.

Parizek is also getting his department ready for dust control season. At the April 11 meeting, he hopes to have a decision on dust control, plus go over the five-year plan the county has with the Iowa Department of Transportation. The budget is due April 30.

Other business

The board approved a proclamation from Riverside Center for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The board approved a farm exemption for Otto Nobis for land in Section 21, Benton Township. He plans to build a pole building on the land.

Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman gave an update on communication towers. They are working with the Federal Communications Commission to have a channel for Benton County with its own name.

Benton Supervisors Meeting


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