Pella Chronicle

Local News

August 24, 2012

Courthouse bell tower, elevator issues discussed

Pella — The Marion County Board of Supervisors is preparing for a project to upgrade the elevator in the courthouse. At the same time, they are considering work to be done on the courthouse bell tower. Board Chairman Sam Nichols felt the supervisors needed to discuss these projects more thoroughly, but realized at Monday’s regular meeting, there should be more key players present.

The elevator discussion has been raised before. Currently, the elevator is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and it must be addressed. The supervisors have been offered options, the least of which would bring the elevator into compliance and the grandest of which would replace the 35-year-old elevator. Regardless of the option chosen to address the issue, the elevator will be out of service for weeks, which would make access to offices on the upper levels of the courthouse difficult. This includes court services in Marion County.

Clerk of Court Carol Sage said that when Dallas County upgraded its courthouse, the County moved every department located in the building to another site to allow continued access to services. The Dallas County project was a two-year, $10 million effort, according to ADA Compliance Officer for Marion County, Steve Edwards.

While Marion County’s project is not as large, Nichols believes it would be better to address the elevator and improvements to the floor of the bell tower at the same time. Supervisor Jim Kingery does not believe the work to be done in the bell tower, on its own, would force the fourth floor to be closed. However, none of the supervisors were aware of what either project would take. They intend to hold another meeting in the future, with contractors, to plan ahead.

In other board action, the supervisors voted to downgrade a road near Pella from Level “B” to Level “C”. Farmers who utilize the road were present at the meeting, and were assured that, though the new designation would include the installation of a gate across the road, they could still have access to the nearby land.

Concern was raised about the width and height of the section of road. Some modern-day farm equipment cannot travel on it.

 “That road wasn’t designed for that,” Nichols said. County Engineer Roger Schletzbaum believes that in the future, improving the road may be necessary to accommodate growth in the area.

“We do have a responsibility to help people get to their land,” Supervisor Craig Agan said. Schletzbaum said work on the road may be difficult, because nearby farmers have left little room near the road.

“They literally planted to the edge of the cliff,” Schletzbaum said.

The road will have limited access, though it is a public road. Nichols disagreed with leaving the road this way, when only a few residents will have access to pass the gate.

Other supervisors’ notes:

- Cal Stephens, Facilities Director, is requesting a new truck to replace one his department has used for 19 years. In his words, repairing this vehicle would be more expensive than purchasing a new one. The department needs three vehicles, Stephens said, due to necessary plowing. A new truck was not budgeted, but Stephens had a quote of $20,000 for a new, 2013 Ford truck that a plow could be mounted to. A new plow was budgeted. The supervisors asked Stephens to check into a 2012 truck, though he said he’d asked local dealers about the availability of a 2012 – to which they replied there were none available – and come back to the board.

-Allowed the use of a new job description for a position to be posted within the Senior Nutrition Department. As previously reported, Senior Nutrition is no longer under the prevue of Public Health, which required some language changes in the job description.

-Approved the transfer of $1,747,684 from the Rural Basic Fund to the Secondary Road Fund. This is an annual occurrence in which taxes paid by rural residents are used to fund secondary roads.

-Approved an industrial zoned site plan for Mark Van Haaften at 1820 Highway 163, Pella.

-Appointed Jody Lautenbach to the City of Pella Development Committee.

-Approved work beyond right of way agreements between the Secondary Road Department and Mark Drost, Peter Keuning, Miner Brown, Sr. and David Edward Baker.

-The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 27, at 8:30 a.m.

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