WIUM Tristates Public Radio

2 County Seats

Jason Parrott / TSPR

A member of the Lee County Board says he's frustrated by the rising cost to repair one of the county's courthouses. Ron Fedler is even suggesting that residents should be allowed to vote on future improvements.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

The Lee County Board is considering a proposal to spend $800,000 on its buildings over the next 18 months.  The county's maintenance department included $400,000 in its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins July 1, 2017. It also would like to spend an additional $400,000 to its FY17 budget.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

Voters told the Lee County Board in November to repair the county’s historic courthouses in Keokuk and Fort Madison instead of building a new courthouse near the county jail. The board appears to be listening, as it approved the hiring of a construction manager, this week, to prioritize and oversee upcoming projects.

Jason Parrott

Ron Fedler said it was about 11:00 p.m. Tuesday when he learned his goal of a single Lee County courthouse was dead. Voters rejected the idea by a more than 2-1 margin at the polls.

Lee County residents are being asked to decide whether the county should borrow up to $8.5-million dollars to build a new courthouse and renovate another building. Plenty of current and former elected leaders are using their wallets to try to sway public opinion.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

The future of the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk hinges on the results of the Nov. 8 election as residents will decide whether the county should borrow about $8.5-million for a new courthouse. Dave Barrett of Keokuk said if the current facility is no longer needed by the county, he believes he can turn it into an asset for the entire community.

The chairman of the Lee County Board announced Wednesday that a potential re-use for the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk has emerged. It would only be needed, though, if voters approve a nearly $9 million bond referendum for a new courthouse on Nov. 8.

Lee County/The Design Partnership Architects

The Lee County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday received its first look at the conceptual design for a single county courthouse. Residents are being asked to decide if the county should borrow nearly $9 million to build it.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

The Lee County Board of Supervisors voted to place a nearly $9 million bond referendum for a new courthouse on the November ballot without knowing what the building might look like. But it appears that will soon be resolved because the county accepted a proposal to develop a preliminary design.

Voter turnout for the November general election was already expected to be high in Lee County, given the tone of the Presidential campaign. Now, it could reach unprecedented levels thanks to a divisive issue being added to the ballot.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

Lee County's historic courthouses have been the subject of debate for years, specifically regarding whether both are needed or if a single courthouse in the center of the county would best serve the public. It now appears the public will be asked to settle that debate.

Lee County Treasurer Chris Spann took office in January after running on a platform of re-opening the driver's license bureau in Keokuk, which had been closed since an office consolidation in 2011. She was able to re-open the bureau a few months ago, but maintaining services in both Keokuk and Fort Madison has proved difficult.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

Mary Van Pelt of Montrose and Al Nelson of Keokuk are regulars at the weekly Lee County Board of Supervisors meetings. They were on opposite sides of the debate over the idea of having a single county seat, but that appears to be behind them as they came together to host a pair of "taxpayer forums" that they both are calling a success.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

Lee County Supervisor Don Hunold's presentation Tuesday morning to the rest of the board was short and sweet. He gave each member two pieces of paper and then spoke for just a few minutes on a topic that has garnered hours upon hours of discussion in recent years.

courtesy

Chairman Ron Fedler used this week's Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting to deliver the message to county residents that the Board is not responsible for every decision in county government.

Lee County might have to dig deep to come up with the money needed for security upgrades to four county-owned buildings, including the courthouses in Keokuk and Fort Madison. That's because the recommendations from the county's Courthouse Security Committee could cost more than $100,000.

Residents of south Lee County now have a much shorter drive to make to renew their driver's licenses.  County Treasurer Chris Spann has reopened the driver's license bureau in the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.

The Lee County Courthouse Security Committee continues to make progress on a plan to improve security at some key county buildings.  The committee, which is comprised of employees from more than a half dozen departments, met for about 90 minutes Thursday morning in Keokuk.

Residents of south Lee County will have to wait a little longer to get their driver's licenses in Keokuk.

Chris Spann, Lee County Treasurer, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that she now hopes to re-open the bureau in the south Lee County Courthouse in mid-to-late May, which is about a month behind schedule.

Jason Parrott / TSPR

State Senator Rich Taylor (D-Mount Pleasant) is surprised that one of the bills he sponsored this year is not sailing through the Iowa Legislature.

The bill would give residents the authority to call for a special election to "relocate a county seat, establish an additional county seat, or consolidate county seats."  Such a vote would require 60% approval to pass.

Flickr / OregonDOT

Lee County Treasurer Chris Spann now has a whole new outlook on the dreaded "Friday the 13th."

A trial date has been set for a lawsuit filed against several members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors over possible violations of Iowa's Open Meetings Law.

One southeast Iowa lawmaker is re-entering the heated debate in Lee County over where government services should be offered and where the county seat(s) should be located.

The most controversial aspect of the reorganization of four Lee County departments in mid-2011 could soon be reversed.

A lawsuit filed against three members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors has been expanded to include a new incident alleged to have occurred just a couple weeks ago.

The three members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors accused by several citizens of violating Iowa's open meetings law do not want the case to be heard in Keokuk.  They also feel the case should not be heard by a jury.

Jason Parrott / Tri States Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has provided Lee County with a lengthy checklist for security improvements at five of its buildings.

The three members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors accused of violating Iowa's open meetings law appear to have several options when it comes to legal representation.

Three members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors are accused of violating Iowa's Open Meetings Act.

Jason Parrott

For the first time in a long time, the Lee County Board of Supervisors discussed the idea of office consolidation and no one on the board or in the audience raised their voices or made disparaging remarks about someone or some group of people.

Pages