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Supervisors Agree To Adding Staff For Sheriff

By Staff | Aug 6, 2015

For the fourth time in just over a month, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors discussed the issue of needing an additional full-time dispatcher and a full-time jailer during its regular meeting Tuesday. Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes once again stated his case for the need for two full-time personnel – one each for the jail and dispatch centers in the Sheriff’s Office.

“People want full time jobs with benefits.” Schultes observed. “I went back four years and in this time there have been 14 jailers and 11 dispatchers that have quit. I look at this as being time consuming, costly in regards to training, and the expertise in knowledge a long-term employee brings to the individual areas is lost as well.”

“I talked with the Marjean Bunda, Auditor in Pocahontas County and it’s not just us. It’s all small counties in the state that are having trouble finding people,” Supervisor Keith Wirtz added.

“I do not think this the situation is acceptable the way it is. We need to change something,” noted Board Chair Craig Merrill.

“Did you get any nibbles or bites from the ad you put in the paper?” asked Supervisor Linus Solberg.

“No, I did not and I can’t wait. I have to hire either part-time people or full-time people because I am losing my summer help,” noted Schultes.

“There was talk of hiring one full-time employee and leaving it up you to decide where the person was needed most and possibly cross-training him or her,” Merrill said to the Sheriff.

“One is better than none, but what I really need is two full-time people,” Schultes responded.

“Lynn is an elected official and the head of his department and knows what his needs are. I’m not inclined to add people to the insurance,” Merrill said, “but we need to do something.”

“Are you willing to try going with one full-time person for two months and then coming back to us with a report?” asked Supervisor Ron Graettinger.

“Absolutely, I would be willing to try that,” responded Schultes.

Graettinger then moved to authorize Schultes to hire one full-time person and report back to the Supervisors in two months, with Schultes deciding which position to fill, either dispatch or jail. The board approved the motion on a 4-1 vote with Supervisor Ed Noonan casting the lone nay vote.

Schultes then asked the Supervisors for permission to increase room and board fees in the county jail for inmates who have work release privileges, from $35 to $50 a day.

“We sometimes forget that we are a revenue raising business. Last year the jail, sheriffs’ office and dispatch center brought in $238,000 in revenue last year and this would increase the revenue by approximately $2,000 a year,” said Schultes.

“When on work release, how long are they gone?” Graettinger asked.

“Some people are released for four, six or eight hours a day and if they are self employed, they can be released for 12 to 14 hours a day,” responded Schultes.

“What is the average stay for someone in jail on a work release?” asked Supervisor Linus Solberg.

“I would say the average is about five days.” Schultes responded. “But we have had people stay 30, 60 or 90 days on a work release.”

“I’m back to the same place I was before, I’m against raising to $50. I feel sorry for those people. They’ve already got enough to handle,” said Solberg.

Graettinger and Wirtz agreed with Solberg with Wirtz adding, “They already have problems, why add more?”

“I agree,” added Supervisor Ed Noonan. “I guess I’m thinking about their families.”

“It is a situation where I assume most of these are minimum wage jobs. It is more of a load for them,” said Merrill. “They are convicted because they did something wrong, but it’s like kicking someone when they are down.”

At the end of the discussion, Merrill noted the consensus of the Board was to not raise the room and board fee for the jail at this time.

In other business, Palo Alto County Zoning Administrator Joe Neary presented the Board with a resolution to waive the 14-day waiting period following issuance of a draft permit by the Department of Natural Resources. Mike Myer, who is building a third livestock confinement unit in Booth Township, requested the request for waiver. The board previously approved a conditional use permit for the facility back on June 30.

“What is the 14 day waiting period for?” asked Wirtz.

“It gives the county time to appeal the draft permit to the DNR,” Neary responded, “Mike is asking for the waiving of the 14 days so construction can begin while it is still warm.”

“I have people scheduled to come at specific times and would like to proceed instead of having to reschedule,” commented Myers.

Wit no further comment, the board introduced and approved the resolution to waive the 14-day waiting period.

Rick Hopper of Jacobsen-Westergard & Associates addressed the Board on a couple of drainage matters. Hopper submitted mitigation agreements for Drainage District 29 & Seven for approval. After consideration the Board unanimously approved the agreements.

The board then continued a drainage hearing on Drainage District 7 Lateral 2 Tile in Section 17of Emmetsburg Township.

“DD 7 Lateral 2 Tile involves 502 acres,” Hopper noted. “I looked a couple of different ways to go. To install a half-inch pipe would cost approximately $65,000, which would be about $126 per acre. Another option is an oblong pipe 44 inches wide by 27 high, on the inside. This would have an approximate total cost of $111,600, which would be about $222 per acre.”

Hopper continued, “I also looked at just replacing the existing tile which would cost approximately $50,000 or about $90 per acre, but for $15,000 more you will get four times the drainage. One possible issue would be the 16.1 acres of Iowa Lakes Community College wetland. By looking at it, it is built in such a way it should not be affected. However, it may impact cost.”

“There is a permanent easement with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to always keep this wetlands,” noted Neal Williamsen, Director of Agriculture Technology with ILCC.

With that thought in mind, the board agreed to continue the hearing to allow further investigation of the Iowa Lakes wetland. The hearing will continue at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15.