Sheriff shares thoughts on mental health

Supervisors approve health and dental plans, equipment purchase, hiring of new deputy


Health, including mental health, was a major topic at the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, and one law enforcement leader said the state’s corrections system houses many with mental illnesses.

“Next week is Corrections Week, and it gave me pause to think again about mental health and that the de facto mental health facilities across the country have become the jails,” Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman said.

He said it’s important not only to think about those with mental health who end up in the corrections system instead of a mental health care facility, but also about the officers who work with a challenging demographic.

“Remember that many of those people receive disparate treatment in our criminal justice system,” Hoffman said. “Also, think about our officers that are not trained to be dealing with those mental illnesses in jail on a continued basis.”

On that note, he added the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office has taken steps to educate staff on mental illness and response to related crises.

“I would like the public to know, also, that in recent years we’ve trained all of our jail staff in mental health first-aid,” Hoffman said. “We recently coupled with our mental health region … and we’re sending one of our officers to be trained in crisis intervention.”

Additionally, the supervisors approved the hiring of Joseph McMillen as a full-time deputy sheriff.

“We’re still not back up to full staffing in our sheriff’s area,” said Board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson on the hire. “This is not expanding our task force or our individuals, it’s just getting back to the full strength that we need.”

The board also approved the county employee health and drug benefit plan, as well as the dental benefit plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

For the health and prescription drug benefit plan, the monthly rates are as follows: single: $821; employee plus one: $1,306.70; family: $1,745.84

For the dental benefit plan, the monthly rates will be $36.50 for single, $73 for employee plus one and $83.50 for family.

A supplemental vision care benefit plan through Avevis was also approved, and county employees may participate if they wish. Those services would come at the employee’s expense.

The county secondary roads department will be getting a new motor grader, and County Engineer Paul Geilenfeldt said the machine will benefit the department and the county.

“This is for the replacement of one of our eight main motor graders that we use full-time for the summer and snow removal,” he said of the 2017 John Deere 772G grader approved for purchase at $241,350. “We’ve had good experience with the 772G, this will be our fourth of virtually the same configuration.”

The new unit is operated with a steering wheel rather than a joystick, and Geilenfeldt said that means part-time employees will have an easier time using the machine.

In other business

The supervisors approved the use of Marshall County Courthouse grounds for a two-day Bible reading event.

“It was a wonderful time last year, we really enjoyed it,” said Mike Nelson, county captain for the Iowa 99 County Bible Reading Marathon. “It’s going to be a little different this year, the time frame is a little less than what we had last year.”

The cover-to-cover reading is set to take place 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 30 and July 1.

Jill Eaton of Central Iowa Community Services read the board’s proclamation of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, and she said there will be an event related to the month.

“The Central Iowa Art Association is doing a reception on Thursday, May 4,” she said. “It’s working with local artists and mental health facilities to bring a community of collaborative, therapeutic art and mental health awareness.”

The event is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Fisher Community Center, and the public was welcomed to participate.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. May 16 in meeting room no. 2 on the third floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St.


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