OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Indian Hills Community College to provide district court services on an interim basis during Tuesday's weekly meeting at the courthouse.
The contract, which was retroactive to Monday, runs through Aug. 13 to correspond with the planned completion of the elevator replacement project at the courthouse.
The college will charge the county $3,500 for the use of five classrooms in the Arts & Science department, but the college is responsible for internet and cleaning services, and other amenities.
Supervisor Brian Morgan said the contract came together quickly after he met with college officials last week.
"I think in the end it's a better deal because everything is in one spot," he said. "We've always a pretty good working relationship with Indian Hills, so that helped."
All Eighth Judicial Court services will be at the college, except magistrate court, which remains at the courthouse because it is on the first floor and is unaffected by the elevator project. Judge Mary Ann Brown and district court administrator Heidi Baker approached the supervisors in the spring, warning them about potential conflicts between the elevator repair and any trials or other court services.
Initially, the supervisors had inquired about using the vacant SIEDA building, but Baker asked about use of the college.
"Indian Hills was something we never really thought of. We didn't really have any options, but Heidi brought up the college, and all the technology is already there," Morgan said. "I think were were set to probably do something with SIEDA, but they would've had to find tables, chairs, etc.
"Indian Hills cut us a pretty good break," he said of the 50% reduction fee from normal usage. "Normally if Hills rents a room, normally it's like $75 dollars as day. But again, with our working relationship with them, and this just being a month deal and them being shut down for the most part, it actually worked out perfect."
Morgan was asked about the county's plans should the elevator project go beyond the life of the contract.
"We'll have to work with court services on that, and they would probably have to use City Hall," he said. "Right now, they don't anticipate having to use council chambers at all.
"Now, there may be certain incidents or something that that may have to happen, but as of right now, they're not planning on using it. However it is still available to us."
In other business:
• Since members of the community met with city and county officials and Canadian Pacific two months ago, the supervisors have heard few comments regarding the railroad blocking crossings at Quincy Avenue and 87th Avenue.
"I was told the trains would come by at 5 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. I've been there to observe at different times, but no trains has ever come through when I've been there," said supervisor Jerry Parker, who makes frequent trips to that area for access to the boat ramp. "I did see something on Facebook, and someone said, 'Well so much for that agreement. They held us up 15 minutes.' Well that's not bad.
"The people that met with us when we called the train people, I think we'd have heard from them if it wasn't (better)," Parker said.
• The boat ramp project is almost finished, Parker said. The light poles have been installed, and Alliant Energy also has connected electricity to the poles. The only remaining part requires the city to install a meter.
"The agreement was the county paid for the installation, and the city will have their electricians install the meter," Parker said. "I'll be talking to the mayor now that all the rest of it is done."