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The Linn County Commissioners began their meeting on Monday, Aug. 14, with the approval of the minutes of their last meeting. That action was followed by the approval of claims in the amount of $499,731.38.
Galen Anderson with AMR reported on activities for the ambulance service over the last week. He brought commissioners up-to-date on staffing needs within the county service being filled, at this point, giving the service a full staff when orientation is complete.
County Clerk David Lamb presented add/abate 2022-925 for a total add of $400.40 and commissioners approved it on a 3-0 vote.
Linn County Rural Fire Chief Randy Hegwald reported they had responded to 12 calls for service in the last week and is working on scheduling a training event for September.
Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend reported there are currently 63 inmates with 37 of those being farm-ins. He also stated that dispatch answered 115 calls to 9-1-1 and SROs are getting ready for back to school.
Public Works Administrator Shaun West reported he had discussed the possibility with STARS on the potential of them doing some of the work at the Pleasanton senior site. West indicated to commissioners that STARS is willing to help with demolition, some of the bathroom remodel and the flooring, which could save some money on that project. West also stated that the vocational school had submitted an assistance application for services requesting some help with a broom on their parking lot following their remodel. West stated he anticipated using the grasshopper with the broom for that request.
Commissioner Jim Johnson commented on a lack of mowing around the county recently and West replied that several employees had volunteered to come in and do some mowing over the weekend. Johnson asked if that would be overtime. West replied that those wanting comp time were used for weekend mowing. At Johnson’s request, Lamb explained how comp time is paid out; noting the employee usually takes the time off his or her regular schedule. West then stated he planned to use someone from maintenance to handle the brooming as the road crews will be working on patching. Commissioner Jason Hightower noted he did not have a problem helping them with that. West asked permission to continue discussion on work at the senior site. Commissioner Danny McCullough moved to approve the assistance application and to allow West to continue discussions with STARS on work at the senior site. The motion carried 2-1 with Johnson voting against.
West presented a request to approve burial permit 23-04 at 1975 County Road 1095 for a water line work at that address. Commissioners approved it on a 3-0 vote. Later in the meeting West told commissioners the number on the burial permit should have been 23-06. Commissioners rescinded their previous motion and approved a motion to approve the permit under the correct number.
West presented information to the commissioners in regards to the sloughing on a county road that runs parallel to Area G at the wildlife refuge. West provided commissioners with several options regarding how to handle the issue with the road, noting the engineer feels that the cost of repairs and the continual sloughing could be very expensive. He noted that the south shop foreman recommended barricading that portion of the road and closing the affected segment.  Hightower asked if a traffic study had been done on that particular stretch of road and West stated it had not and added he would have that done and revisit the matter next week.
Linn County Health Department Administrator Amanda Snyder reported on various activities her department has been holding and plans to hold. Snyder asked permission to use the grant funds she had previously applied for to purchase a permanent digital sign for the Health Department to instead purchase a portable digital sign that could be used at various events they hold around the county and could be used by other departments, as well. Snyder stated the portable sign falls under the parameters of the grant. Johnson asked who would be responsible for moving it around. Snyder stated that if the department had a vehicle with the ability she could move it around herself.
Snyder reported to commissioners she had been awarded a workforce development grant in the amount of $94,000-plus to be used over the course of four years.  Snyder noted the grant would help cover various training needs and then requested an executive session to discuss the remainder of uses for the grant. Johnson asked how the grant discussion falls under executive session and Snyder explained it impacts a specific employee.
Commissioners entered into executive session for 20 minutes on personnel and 15 on legal matters with Snyder, West and County Treasurer Janet Kleweno on personnel and West and Lamb on legal. 
Following the executive session the commissioners approved a motion to accept the workforce development grant for Snyder. 
West asked commissioners to accept the resignation of transportation employee Kim Grigsby effective Aug. 25. Commissioners approved the resignation on a 3-0 vote and thanked Grigsby for her time with the county.
Lamb spoke to commissioners regarding the planned cost of living increase he put in the 2024 budget along with the need to trim $110,000 from the proposed budget to remain revenue neutral. Following the discussion commissioners gave Lamb permission to publish the intent to be over revenue neutral as well as the proposed budget and asked Lamb to continue working on trimming the budget with hearings set for 11 a.m. on Sept. 5 for both. (See related article in this edition.)
County Counselor Gary Thompson reported to commissioners that after reviewing the matter as requested last week, it was his opinion that EDA Jessica Hightower holding a position on the STARS board of directors with the county funding STARS through the budget as of next year does not create a conflict of interest because of the following findings:
1. EDA Hightower does not hold a position in the county through which she has any decision-making authority for the budget;
2. The position on the STARS board is not a paid position and she is not benefitting from her position on the board financially; 
3. STARS is a private organization and being on the board does not create an incompatibility of office situation; 
4. It is in the interests of the county to have a representative on the board.


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