Supervisors open bids for tornado siren project

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Marshall County Auditor/Recorder Nan Benson opens bids for the first phase of the storm siren project while Administrative Assistant Kelly Illum looks on during Wednesday morning’s board of supervisors meeting.

The fifth anniversary of the July 19, 2018, EF-3 tornado that left devastating damage in Marshalltown seemed like a fitting day for the Marshall County Board of Supervisors to open bids for the first phase of a storm siren system upgrade project.

County Auditor/Recorder Nan Benson and Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder opened the bids and tabulated the cost of each — $272,777.47 from Federal Signal, $319,400 from Table Rock Alerting Systems and $407,702 from K&W Electric and RC Systems. According to Elder, the initial phase would include the installation of 10 sirens around the county placed at the following locations: 2887 290th St. in Ferguson; 325th Street between Main and Elm Streets in Gilman; 105 Main St. in Haverhill; 10 E. Market St. in Laurel; 114 Main St. in Liscomb; 613 Main St. in Melbourne, 502 N. Marietta St. in Rhodes; 308 Main St. in St. Anthony; the alley between 2nd Street SW and Main Street that connects 2nd Avenue Northwest and 1st Avenue North; and the Grimes Farm and Conservation Area on the southwest edge of Marshalltown.

A motion to accept the bids carried by a unanimous 3-0 vote, but no action was taken on choosing one of the three as Benson said they would need time to review the bids and make sure they meet all of the criteria before the next supervisors meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to extend an offer to Tavias Stevens to become the new zoning director, sanitarian and weed commissioner to be shared with Tama County through a 28E agreement, the details of which have not yet been ironed out between the two entities. Before the public comment period, the board also approved the extension of the sheriff’s office’s law enforcement contracts with all of the communities in the county it has agreements with except for Melbourne and Clemons in the following amounts — $2,990 with Ferguson, $16,460 with Gilman, $4,590 with Haverhill, $6,605 with Laurel, $26,470 with Le Grand, $7,840 with Liscomb, $14,550 with Albion, $9,010 with Rhodes and $2,510 with St. Anthony.

In response to a question from Supervisor Carol Hibbs, Sheriff Joel Phillips said the contract increased slightly from the previous year — from $62.50 per taxable household or water meter to $65. Citing the recent updating of the county’s contract with the Animal Rescue League, Board Chairman Jarret Heil expressed a desire to ensure that contracts were consistent going forward and said he would be trying to call a mayor’s meeting sometime in the future.

During the public comment period, Mark Eaton of Marshalltown addressed the relationship between government entities and the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce, asking for the ability to attend Chamber board meetings and indicating he had been denied. He also said Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain meeting agendas had mostly been unsuccessful.

“If taxpayers pay for membership in this organization, we should have some record retention requirements so that the taxpayer can investigate where its money is going,” he said.

George Haywood, who farms near State Center, referenced a dispute over drainage tile with a neighboring farmer and said he had struggled to get assistance so far. He asked for a tape recording of a previous supervisors meeting to use during an upcoming court proceeding.

“I’d like to have something done about it. I think the simple way to do it is to put an 18 inch tile through the road, put it all together, and we wouldn’t need no intake… Solve the problem,” Haywood said.

County Assessor Blaze Wurr reported that just over 2,500 Marshall County households had applied for the senior property tax exemption since it became law, and he also shared concerns about the secure door being difficult for older residents to open at his new office in the courthouse.

Before adjournment, Hibbs commented on the five-year anniversary of the tornado and invited County Buildings and Grounds Director Lucas Baedke for his hard work getting the courthouse prepared for the open houses held in the afternoon yesterday.

“Surviving is a good word there,” Baedke said in response to a remark from Hibbs. “Not really much to add, just that it’ll be exciting to get people in, bring them through the building and show the major progress that we’ve made. We’re not completely done. There’s some finishing touch stuff here and there, but we’re gonna stick to the public areas… It should be a fun time. We’re excited, and we’re hoping for a great turnout.”

Fellow Supervisor Steve Salasek “strongly encouraged” county employees to participate in the tours, and Heil thanked both employees and community members for being patient and supportive through a lengthy rebuilding and revitalization process.

“When you get the chance to look around, it’s very impressive with having modern offices in a historical building,” Heil said. “There’s a lot of difficulty in doing that with all of the challenges that a building like this has, so thanks to everybody that’s been involved.”

The courts are scheduled to resume operations on the fourth and fifth floors on Aug. 10, which will be the final step of the full reopening. Hibbs said the county would also be working with the city on plans for the courthouse square once the interior of the building is completed.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the consent agenda as listed.

• Approved the hiring of Cristina Ramirez as the new county attorney administrative assistant at an hourly rate of $17.85.

• Approved the hiring of Elizabeth Martinez as an assistant in the auditor/recorder’s office at an hourly rate of $20.75.

• Approved the Methamphetamines Drug Hot Spots Grant Program grant in the amount of $8,000.

• Adopted a resolution of bonds for elected officials/department heads approval pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 64D.

• Held a public hearing and approved a decrease in appropriations and re-appropriation of funds to move $2.3 million from non-departmental funds to the county capital building fund.


Contact Robert Maharry

at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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