Supervisors approve contract for 227th work

The Jefferson County Supervisors met Monday to hear updates on jail diversion services, crisis intervention training for law enforcement and to consider county road issues and request a proposal for managing nuisance properties in the county.

Assistant to the County Engineer Brent LaPoint reported to the supervisors on recent and upcoming roadwork in the county including the expected closure of Walton Road today while a culvert is replaced. Supervisor Dick Reed related a complaint about Round Prairie Park being difficult to access for recreational vehicles due to overgrowth of trees along its interior access roads.

The supervisors approved a resolution for step-raises for two Jefferson County Secondary Road employees. Hiring was approved for Denny Elliott as a part-time employee and for Mary Pohren as a seasonal employee for the County Conservation Department.

A disposal system contractor?s license was reinstated for George Boitnott Enterprises. A contract was approved for Jones Contracting Corp. of West Point, Iowa for the paving of a Highway 1 turn lane and 227th Street. The 227th Street work should have the road open to through traffic by Aug. 31, and the turn lane and highway widening is expected to be opened by Oct. 31.

Rochelle Phelps from Optimae presented to the board about local jail diversion services, now known as the Community Connection Program which works closely with the county sheriff?s department to identify mental health issues among those jailed in the county and divert them to services appropriate to their situations.

?If we look at Jefferson County in 2017 we have 696 total arrests. Of those, 111 completed a mental health screener which asks questions designed to help reveal mental health or substance abuse issues. From that number, 77 identified as having a mental health issue or about 19 percent of those booked into the jail,? said Phelps.

Phelps pointed out that while recidivism and repeat trips through different services are always a concern and that some individuals skew the data because of this, overall the trend is toward a gradual lowering of the frequency of arrests and the need for jail diversion and mental health services.

The discussion went on to debate measures of success regarding outcomes and repeat arrests and the burden of mental health interventions on taxpayers. One measure of success was that the number of individuals in jail for more than 50 days decreased from 2016 to 2017 and so did the number of jail days for each individual on average.

May is mental health awareness month and a collaborative effort by local stakeholders has launched a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram called ?Stepping up for better days.?

Wednesday will mark a day of action for the campaign where activities and information will be available at Optimae Recovery Center, Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store and the indoor gym at Roosevelt Community Recreation Center.

Sections of two different roads in the county had their speed limits lowered from 55 to 45 miles per hour. First, Pleasant Plain Road, between the east city limit line of Fairfield and a point that is 300 feet north-northeast of the county trail crossing. Second, Jasmine Avenue, from 180th Street, south 1320 feet.

The board revisited an ongoing discussion about enforcement of the nuisance ordinance and spoke with assistant county attorney, Patrick McAvan, and Bruce Hudson, executive director of Regional Utility Service Systems, a seven county service entity in which Jefferson County participates.

RUSS manages nuisance ordinance enforcement for several other counties in the group and after discussion and consideration the board formally requested a proposal for such services from Hudson.