Supervisors move to reduce number of voting precincts
Citing low turnout in some of the rural areas and a struggle to attract poll workers, Marshall County Auditor Nan Benson presented a plan to consolidate voting precincts during Tuesday morning’s board of supervisors meeting.
The board approved the new map by a 3-0 vote and opted to forgo a second reading, setting up a public hearing and a third and final reading at the next meeting on Dec. 21. The proposal establishes a total of seven precincts in Marshall County for voters who live outside the city limits of Marshalltown. Currently, there are 11.
Those who live in Eden, Washington and Logan townships will vote in Melbourne. Those who live in State Center Township will continue to vote in State Center. Those who reside in Marietta, Minerva and Liberty townships will vote in Clemons. Residents of Bangor, Liscomb and Taylor townships will likely vote in Albion, although the details are still being worked out. Residents of Vienna and Taylor townships will vote in Green Mountain, while residents of Le Grand and Green Castle townships will vote in Le Grand. Finally, residents of Timber Creek and Jefferson townships will vote at the Marshalltown Community College administration building on the south edge of town.
Benson said that in her own rural precinct, just 19 voters turned out in the 2019 city/school election. One notable change proposed was moving the polling place in the Bangor/Liscomb/Taylor precinct from Liscomb to Albion, as most residents of that area are going toward Marshalltown for work, but a decision has not yet been finalized.
Like most other agencies with at least 100 employees, Marshall County would be subject to the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine or testing mandate if it is upheld in the courts. Although they didn’t take formal action, board members agreed that a voluntary effort to gather information on which employees are or aren’t fully vaccinated would be beneficial to the county for planning purposes.
“My personal opinion is (that) it’ll end up in the courts so long it’ll end up a moot point, and we won’t have to do a thing,” Benson said. “It’s weird. There’s just nothing else you can say other than that. These are strange times.”
The board voted unanimously to renew the county’s lease with the Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) for the use of the Orpheum Theatre through May 31, 2022. The county, which has used the Orpheum for district court proceedings, has thus far paid rent and utilities, but as part of the new lease, the IVCCD will not charge any additional rent.
As ownership of the building will soon be transferred from IVCCD to the Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD), Benson said MCSD Superintendent Theron Schutte would be willing to work with the county if a longer extension becomes necessary.
“Marshalltown and Marshall County have had a lot in the last few years, and it’s just nice to see everyone pull together,” she said.
Board of Supervisors Chair Dave Thompson expressed similar sentiments and commended the IVCCD and the MCSD for being accommodating partners through a difficult situation.
“This is another great example of government entities working together for the good of the public,” he said.
Later in the meeting, the board discussed the ongoing radio tower project and ultimately opted, by a 3-0 vote, to keep ownership of the tower itself and all related equipment under the county’s name at least until construction is completed and the tower is fully operational. Benson said this arrangement would likely extend to the end of fiscal year 2023.
During the public comment period, Thompson offered his condolences to the family of former supervisor Gordy Johnson, who passed away on Dec. 5 at the age of 75.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the board:
• Approved the hiring of Logan Adams as a jailer at an hourly rate of $19.88, and approved a pay raise from $18 to $19 an hour for maintenance tech Paul Wayman.
• Approved a funding agreement with the Iowa DOT for the resurfacing project on E63 from the Story County line east to Highway 330.
• Approved a 28E agreement with Central Iowa Community Services for mental health and disability services and an update to an agreement with Silverstone Group for actuarial services.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with PPME Local 2003 (the secondary roads union) on a contract through 2025 with wage increases of 3.25 percent in 2023 and 2024.
Contact Robert Maharry
at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or