Washington Supervisors experiment with Zoom meetings

The Washington County Board of Supervisors is facing a dilemma related to the Coronavirus. If it follows the advice of medical professionals and limits its public meeting to 10 people, then that would mean that only five people plus the five supervisors on the board could be in the room during the meeting. On the other hand, the Iowa Open Meetings Law requires that all meetings of the supervisors must be open to the public.

At its March 24 meeting, the supervisors experimented with a meeting held via Zoom, an application that can be used by anyone with a smartphone or computer. Users can see and hear everything that is going on in the meeting and can be heard, when allowed, by the supervisors. But there were still too many people in the room so Supervisor Chair Jack Seward Jr. said he wanted to try a different technology at the Match 31 meeting which would require anyone interested in attending to call in to be connected to the meeting “and then we can evaluate as we go,” he said. He said he is open to talking to anyone in the media about the meetings at any time.

The supervisors asked those participating in the Zoom meeting to let them know what they thought about the experience.

Kalona Annexation

Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh briefed the supervisors on a project the City of Kalona is considering to annex property now owned by Shiloh and Maryland Farms south of Kalona. He said the land could be used to develop 52 residential lots with houses selling in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. The Kalona City Council intends to hold a public hearing on the voluntary annexation request at its meeting April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Kalona City Hall. The supervisors voted to draft a letter of support of the project for approval at its March 31 meeting.

Other Business

In other business, the supervisors:

*Approved a federal aid agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation to authorize funding for 1.7 miles of paving on the Kewash Nature Trail;

*Approved change orders related to the Communications Center project totaling $27,783,75 while not exhausting the project’s contingency budget;

*Heard a recycling report from We Make It Go away (WEMIGA) and

*Approved renewal of a Class C Native Wine license for Awe Winery of Ainsworth.