OTTUMWA — With the elevator in the Wapello County Courthouse set to be replaced starting next week, the board of supervisors is seeking to find a second suitable alternative site to hold court proceedings.

So far, the county has a confirmation from City Hall about using council chambers, which has all the amenities the district court asks for. However, a second site would also be a benefit. More will be known later this week, Supervisor Brian Morgan said, after officials meet with Indian Hills Community College.

The county could also use the vacant SIEDA building as a possible option, though empty rooms at IHCC would be ideal, Morgan said. The elevator project, which is a full replacement, is expected to take about three weeks and will affect access to multiple offices in the courthouse.

"I think things are starting to fall into place now. We've found a couple, or three rooms at the SIEDA building," Supervisor Jerry Parker said. "They said they'd only need two of them, but there's been some disparity on the price that would be charged. They thought one thing, and we thought another, so we're narrowing it down.

"So we're looking for a place for the judge to meet, and one more courtroom."

Regarding Indian Hills, Morgan said rooms there won't be used until the middle of August, and that the court "would have those for three weeks or so. And the tables are all there, they have access to Wi-Fi."

Morgan said if rooms at IHCC could be secured, then court most likely wouldn't take place in the SIEDA building.

"It would be more convenient for court services, because they wouldn't have to set up all that stuff like tables and chairs, etc.," he said.

No matter what happens, Morgan said there is plenty still up in the air.

"There's a lot of moving parts," he said. "And then you ask, 'What do you need next month?' I know some of that they don't know until the week before, but it's really getting down to the nuts and bolts of what they truly need."

In other business:

• County engineer Jeff Skalberg reported more theft of Secondary Roads equipment, namely a chainsaw and tools. The security cameras for the department have yet to be installed; catalytic converters were stolen off three trucks a week ago.

Skalberg requested vehicles to be equipped with a GPS system through Verizon at a cost of $747 per month. It's a government plan, he said, that could be started and stopped as the county saw fit, the same as with the work cellphones.

"Basically, this is a black box on a cellphone plan," he said.

Parker wondered what would stop someone from stealing the black box out of the vehicle, and Skalberg said it was difficult to access.

"It's hard-wired underneath the dash. It's basically tamper-proof," he said. "You have to find it first."

Parker asked Skalberg if he'd had any discussions with other entities that have used the black box GPS system.

"The Iowa DOT actually uses the same plan on their snow plows," he said. "I believe Linn County also has it. The biggest problem would be cellphone reception, but it does store data points, and then when it does make that connection, it downloads the data points."

• The supervisors postponed a planned public hearing regarding the vacation and closure of 180th Street between 90th Avenue and 100th Avenue. It will tentatively be rescheduled for July 20.

• The supervisors approved collective bargaining agreements for the courthouse unit and Secondary Roads department.

— Chad Drury can be reached at, and on Twitter @ChadDrury


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