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Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors move to protect Shell Rock River area
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Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors move to protect Shell Rock River area

From the Our environment: Winter 2020-2021 series
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Tuesday morning's meeting of the Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors was a day for significant financial measures as well as possible structural improvements. Along with approving a capital loan refunding plan that could mean $231,000 in interest savings, the three-member panel signed off on a resolution which will help create the "Shell Rock River Watershed Management Coalition."

Shell Rock - Rock Falls

The Rock Falls covered bridge at Wilkinson Pioneer Park along the Shell Rock River in rural Cerro Gordo County.

According to Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board Executive Director Mike Webb, part of the purpose for the agreement is to improve flood mitigation for towns and counties up and down the river.

"It gives them a way to source outside funding to mitigate flooding and improve water quality," Webb said of the plan. 

Webb said that Cerro Gordo was asked to join the coalition because towns within the County, such as Plymouth and Rock Falls, are along the Shell Rock River. To represent Cerro Gordo's interests, the County Board unanimously approved making Webb a delegate to the newly minted Coalition. 

At the previous week's board meeting, the Cerro Gordo County Supervisors moved forward on a plan to refund 2012 capital loan notes it used to cover costs for the county's law enforcement center.

On Tuesday, Casey Callanan, the county board chair, was authorized to sign a final term sheet with MBT Bank which operates in Clear Lake. 

Under the terms, Cerro Gordo is expected to see at least $231,000 in savings over a multi-year period. Through the refunding process, Cerro Gordo received three bids from local banks. MBT's low bid totaled $4,573,000 and had a rate of 0.399%. The savings are subsequent enough that county officials expect to see results from the deal within the next year.

Shell Rock River - Fallspark

Shell Rock River near Rock Falls in rural Cerro Gordo County.

"We have been working on our budget for '22 and we will see some savings in our debt service levy and be able to drop that levy even more for the taxpayer," Cerro Gordo County Budget Manager Heather Mathre said.

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The other big-ticket financial item for the Board of Supervisors came with approval of a "Community Development Block Grant" agreement with YSS Francis Lauer, which will help with its multi-million dollar renovation project.

Francis Lauer's Community Based Center Director Shanda Hansen said previously that the $600,000 agreement, which includes: the county, the regional North Iowa Area Council of Governments and the state of Iowa, will go toward work on the group's crisis intake center, school, dining facilities and outpatient facilities.

As the meeting came to a close, CG Public Health Director Brian Hanft updated the Board of Supervisors about where COVID-19 vaccination efforts are at now.

According to Hanft, next week's allocation of vaccines will be 800 doses. He said the pace that Cerro Gordo has maintained means that about 28% of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated.

"At that rate, it’s going to take awhile," Hanft said.

Hanft then relayed that the County has tried to push more weekly doses of COVID-19 vaccine but that the state has yet to up the allotment. 

That decision means that county health officials will have to carefully assess when it can begin vaccinations for food and manufacturing workers and how many vaccines it can offer to them on a weekly basis.

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Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Jared.McNett@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.

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