Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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June 25, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 6/21/11

In this edition:

*Rural Sirens
*Roadside Vegetation Award
*Did You Know?

*Rural Sirens
June means tornado season, so this might be a good time to discuss some of the things the Board has been doing in terms of tornado safety.

At the risk of bragging, I am going to toot my own horn (sound my own siren?) about a recent Board accomplishment. One of the things I have personally been pushing for several years is rural tornado sirens.

You may be thinking, “Rural sirens? Does that make sense? Is anyone there to hear them?” If that is what you are thinking, you need to expand your idea of rural! Take our first rural siren, for example.

It took some doing, but a couple years ago we finally got our first rural tornado siren put up in Frytown. Located in the southern part of Johnson County, Frytown is technically unincorporated, but there must be 150 people who live there. More importantly, a busy day at Yoder’s Auction House might see 300 or more people in one small area. In addition, many in the area are conservative Mennonite or Amish, and may not have access to radio or tv. It makes sense to have some sort of warning system there.

The next rural siren will be going up soon in Joetown. Even further south than Frytown, the Joetown siren will serve the 50-100 residents of that area; more importantly, it will be next to Iowa Mennonite High School and its 140 students. It will also serve Washington Township Elementary, with even more children in that building.

We have plans to add another siren next year in the Big Grove area, in the northern part of Johnson County. In Big Grove the number of rural residents and campers far exceed the numbers we have in southern Johnson County. This will be another great addition.

These sirens are not cheap (they run between $10-20k), but the newer models are virtually maintenance free, so there is little ongoing expense. These are expenditures that I am happy to make!

I have been working on this for quite some time, but we are starting to get there. I think many rural residents are going to be safer as a result.

Club Kazi members will be hosting a day of summer fun while celebrating Juneteenth. A Family Carnival will be at Mercer Park in Iowa City on Sunday June 26th from 12:00 to 6:00 pm.

There will be free food (while supplies last), vendors, music, and live entertainment. Children can enjoy story time, a jumping gym, and face painting while adults can enter the bid whist, spades, and chess tournaments. There will be a free health fair and financial wellness fair.

Children and families will also have a chance to win wonderful door prizes including tickets from the Englert Theatre to see the Miles Davis Experience, tickets to the Children's Museum, tickets to see the Cedar Rapids Kernels, gift certificates to local restaurants and much more.

For more information please contact: LaTasha Massey, Club Kazi Co-Chair at 688.5708 or

Club Kazi is a group of African American professionals that work on different areas of concerns within the Black community. For the past few years we have been working on bringing awareness about overrepresentation of Black children in the child welfare system and how to embrace and support families that foster children of color.

*Roadside Vegetation Award
Congratulations to the Johnson County Secondary Roads Department, who in cooperation with the Johnson County Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Committee, has been awarded the 2011 Achievement Award for the “Native Plant Community Policy for Roadside Vegetation Management.”

For those of you who have been following this issue, this award is a long time coming! A quick history lesson: Several county residents spent the decades of the 70s and 80s trying to get Johnson County to stop spraying our ditches. In response to their efforts, in the 90s, the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Committee was formed – then they spent ten years debating a series of policies!

The end result was a very forward thinking policy that honors the native vegetation of Iowa, balances the desires of private ownership and government, and minimizes the use of herbicides. No one got everything they wanted out of the policy, but it has both served as a model for other counties and worked quite well.

Our current Roadside Vegetation Manager is Chris Henze, and Chris has done a FANTASTIC job! This award is indicative of good policies, a great committee, and his hard work.

(In addition to “Roadside Vegetation Manager”, Chris also has that classic job title unique to County government – Weed Commissioner!)

This prestigious award comes from the National Association of Counties, with a membership of 3,068 counties in all 50 states. The award will be presented on July 17 at the national conference in Oregon. Congrats again!

I have about twenty “Sullivan for Supervisor” t-shirts of various sizes, and I would like to get them in the hands of folks who will promise to wear them in parades and to public events.

If you are interested, E-mail me with the size(s) you need, and I’ll get them to you. They are Kelly green. Thanks!

*DID YOU KNOW? The average cost of family health care insurance accessed through an employer is now $19,393 – up over 7% from last year. (Source: CNN.)

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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