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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission split on use of grant money by health department

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

MOUND CITY – With what she thought was a deadline looming over use of the Linn County Health Department’s COVID funds, department Director Amanda Snyder, talked with the commissioners about grant funds that needed to be encumbered during the commission’s meeting on Tuesday, May 30.

After the meeting, she learned that the state had erroneously notified her about the deadline.

Going on what information she had at the time of the meeting, Snyder said that the state was requiring that reports be filed by June 1 to show how the funds were going to be spent on four of the grants. She said that two of the grants will not allow construction anymore.

Snyder said that the parking lot and drive-through area that is being worked on will be finished by mid-week.

She told the commissioners that there was still money for the back of the building to be remodeled into a classroom. Commissioner Jason Hightower said he would approve the classroom project.

Commissioner Jim Johnson asked if Snyder had a bid on that project. It was decided that Snyder would use a previous bid from Rockin’ H as an estimate for the report.

She also asked if a safe room was a possibility and would if she would have permission to reach out to companies for a bid for the safe room.

Commission Chair Danny McCullough said that he would approve getting a bid for a safe room project.

At a previous meeting it was discussed that the community building in Pleasanton had a storm shelter, but that it was several blocks from the health department building.

In a telephone conversation following Tuesday’s meeting, Snyder said that the safe room would be for tornados, for use in the case of an active shooter, and as a place to store records.

Commissioners Hightower and Johnson said that they were against installing a safe room.

When Snyder asked if that money would either be spent on a safe room or sent back to the state, both Hightower and Johnson said they would rather send it back.

“You would rather us not have a tornado shelter in our building?” asked Snyder. “Especially if we had clients in at the time something happened?”

Hightower asked if other county buildings had safe rooms or shelters. Snyder said the Justice Center had a shelter area and the courthouse has the basement.

“I am just wanting to be upfront with you,” Hightower said. “That is not something I am really in support of. I’m not trying to have you out there chasing down a problem that does not have my support.”

Snyder then asked about the digital sign. “Is that something you want are interested in or would you rather the funds be returned?”

Johnson said he was not in favor of the digital sign.

Hightower pointed out that Snyder had not really been in support of the digital sign last week.

“Where I am coming from, we are never going to have this money again. If we decide this is something we want five years from now , we are not going to budget money from county funds for it,” she replied “That’s why these are expanding infrastructure grants. That is what this money is here for.”

When McCullough asked if maintenance on machines and other costs could be included, Snyder told them that anything that she could account for has been budgeted.

Thompson said just because a safe room is included in this report does not mean they have to build one.

McCullough said he did not think that it would hurt to submit the figures even if they were a pipe dream.

The commissioners left the issue of exactly what to encumber undecided with Snyder deciding what to encumber for the reports.

In the later telephone interview, Snyder said that it turned out that the message that the health department received about turning in a report by June 1 was corrected by the state. It was meant to be sent to counties that had large sums of money that had not been spent, so Snyder has more time to work on personnel budgets and projects that are to be taken out of the grants.

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