Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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October 11, 2009

Sullivan’s Salvos 10/13/09

I was proud of the Board recently, as we chose to buy local. (Newspapers missed the story.) Here was the scenario:

Johnson County got quotes on pavement markings; in other words, painting the lines on county roads. A company from Sioux County (5 hours from here) came in at $12/gallon. LL Pelling, based in North Liberty, came in at $12.40/gallon. That amounts to a cost differential of about 3%.

The cost of the contract is $60,000. The recommendation was to take the lower bid. I disagreed. So, the Board needed to decide – did we want to paint 3 more miles of road, or spend the $60,000 in such a way that it will recirculate throughout our economy? I think this is a no-brainer.

$60,000 easily supports a full-time employee at LL Pelling. That is an employee who buys a house in North Liberty, sends her kids to our schools, buys her gas and groceries and car insurance in our county, volunteers her time here, and pays her taxes here. The same $60K spent with a Sioux County firm leaves, never to return.

LL Pelling typically lays off several workers over the winter; such is the seasonal nature of their work. Odds are that this contract will keep a few employees working a few weeks longer this year. It might mean a few more presents under the tree for a few families.

I have been fighting for several years to get Johnson County to adopt a Buy Local policy. (I first brought it up in 2005.) It has been a long, slow process. Even though we signed on to the Chamber Buy Here initiative, I could never get Johnson County to follow through and actually adopt a policy. This example is why it matters.

Understand, a Buy Local policy does not change the public bidding process. A policy would only apply to expenditures small enough that no bids are required. Taxpayers remain protected under a Buy Local policy; I think taxpayers actually benefit substantially. I’ll continue advocating for such a policy. I hope we get there someday soon.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here in Johnson County, we are blessed with the premier service system in the state. Unfortunately, our outstanding services only scratch the surface of the needs we have in this area.

Support for victims of domestic violence and their loved ones is available through the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP). DVIP began in 1977, providing direct service support to more than 28,000 women, men and children during the past two decades. In one year DVIP will answer approximately 18,000 crisis/phone calls and provide more than 8000 nights of safe shelter to approximately 400 women and children.

For more info on DVIP, or how you can help them in their mission, visit their website at:

The annual Run for the Schools event is Sunday, October 18. My family and I will miss the event this year for the first time in a long while. I hope the rest of you can get out and support our schools!

I came across a very disturbing set of statistics recently, and unfortunately, the stats are local! Health Iowa surveyed many UI students over the past 12 months. The results are scary:

44% of UI students surveyed felt overwhelmed by anxiety in the past year. 26% reported being so depressed they found it difficult to function.

These are our neighbors. They are clearly stressed. Many nonstudents in our community are similarly troubled. So what can we do?

We just had National Mental Illness Awareness Week. NAMI can and does help. The Mid East Iowa Community Mental Health Center serves those who walk in. We are blessed with other outstanding community providers.

Despite our resources, it is not enough. We need to somehow create a community that is more caring. We need to do more to reach out to our friends and neighbors. I know I am not doing all I can in this area… I welcome any ideas any of you have. If someone comes up with a clever idea, I’ll share it.

The University of Iowa will host a symposium Oct. 16-17 examining new energy opportunities being created in response to the growing challenge of climate change. “Energy and Climate Change in the Midwest: Creating Opportunities in the New Economy,” will take place at the UI Athletic Club.

National experts from an array of backgrounds will be speaking. Topics to be covered include the state of the science, economic impacts, renewable energy, energy efficiency, agricultural issues, and policy responses at the local, state, and federal levels. For more information and to register visit

Government is GOOD! How do I know? Because Social Security is available to provide help to the most vulnerable among us.

Yes, there needs to be a bit of tinkering with the program to ensure a solid financial future. That has been done before, and will be done again. Meanwhile, Social Security has helped millions of Americans avoid poverty and death. Brought to you by your GOVERNMENT!

DID YOU KNOW? Johnson County SEATS is designed for paratransit, but there are several opportunities for groups of non-disabled riders to use the service. For more info, contact SEATS at 339-6128.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website- .

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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