Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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September 26, 2014

Sullivan’s Salvos     9/30/14

In this edition:

*Book Festival
*Democratic Party Fall BBQ
*Courthouse Annex
*Did You Know?

*Book Festival
         The Iowa City Book Festival runs Thursday, October 2nd through Sunday, October 5th. This edition of the Book Festival has what I believe is the best lineup yet!

The Iowa City Book Festival, now in its sixth year, will be organized by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature. Iowa City is one of just seven Cities of Literature in the world, and the Iowa City Book Festival will celebrate books and writing by leveraging the unique mix of local resources that helped to earn that designation.

Partners like the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and International Writing Program, FilmScene, and the Mission Creek Festival will offer programming. This, along with a selection of nationally prominent authors, will provide an exciting and enlightening weekend of events and programs that put literature of all kinds in the spotlight.

Past participants include Ridley Pearson, Jane Smiley, Curtis Sittenfeld, Anthony Marra, Donald Ray Pollock, Elizabeth Berg, Robert Goolrick, Jane Hamilton, Audrey Niffenegger, Gregg Hurwitz, Karen Thompson Walker, Bennett Sims, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, as well as local and area writers like James Galvin, Marvin Bell, Mary Swander, Max Allan Collins Sam Kean, Carl Zimmer, and Zach Wahls.

         This year’s headliners include Marilyn Robinson, Jane Smiley, Reyna Grande, Luis Urrea and many more! For more information, including the full schedule of events, see:

*Democratic Party Fall BBQ
         Save the date! The Johnson County Democratic Party is holding its annual Fall BBQ on Sunday, October 5th from 3-7pm at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

         Special guest speakers include Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Tickets and more info are available at:

*Courthouse Annex
            Johnson County is asking voters to approve a courthouse annex. Following is a list of frequently asked questions:

Why do we need a Courthouse annex?
The historic Johnson County Courthouse was constructed in 1901 when the population of the County was approximately 25,000 residents. The Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a historic gem. However, the building is entirely inadequate to serve the modern court needs of a growing county with a population of nearly 140,000 residents. The Courthouse Annex project is proposed to address the critical safety, security and space deficiencies in the current courthouse.
Offices and chambers for the County Attorney, Clerk of Court, judges and juries lack sufficient space. Civil trials are routinely postponed due to lack of available courtrooms. There is virtually no space for attorneys to meet with clients or conduct negotiations or mediations. Employees work in cramped quarters and records are stored in various off-site locations.
Due to age and design standards of the 113-year-old facility, the present Courthouse presents a potential threat to the personal safety and security of employees, judges, jurors, witnesses, victims and other visitors. There is no entrance system/checkpoint protecting against weapons and no separation of criminals/suspects from the general public, including victims, witnesses and jurors.

What features will be included in the Courthouse annex?
The Courthouse annex project proposal includes 69,167 square feet of space that will be used for:

• Six new courtrooms designed with updated technology

• Expanded space for the Clerk of Court

• Expanded space for court administration and court-related services

• New jury deliberation rooms

• Interview rooms for confidential communication between lawyers and their clients

• New multi-purpose meeting areas for current and future judicial-related community-based programming (Drug Court, Family Treatment Court, and other mental health and substance abuse programs)

• Secure, ADA-compliant entrance on south end of the Courthouse, as well as access to the new annex building on the west

Where will the annex be located?
The three-level building will be located west of the existing Courthouse. Built into a hill, the new building will be energy-efficient, use land already owned by Johnson County, and not detract from the historic Courthouse.

Will the Courthouse annex be ADA-compliant?
Yes. The Courthouse annex will be designed to meet all federal and state Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accessibility to those with special needs. As the numbers of people using the Courthouse continues to increase, the annex will also accommodate that growth now and into the future. Elevators, restrooms, courtrooms, jury boxes, witness boxes, entrances and exits will all be constructed to ADA requirements.

How will a Courthouse annex protect the public?
The annex will include metal detection equipment at a single secure entrance to detect and prevent individuals from bringing a dangerous weapon into the facility. Offices for judges, jury deliberation rooms, and entrances in and out of new courtrooms will all be secured. Separate, secure hallways and elevators will allow movement of inmates away from the general public. Although inmates are accompanied by deputies while in the Courthouse, currently the inmates use the same elevators, walkways and restrooms as the general public. That means victims, victims’ families and jurors may be forced to be in close proximity to the accused. Additionally, the annex will include a fire suppression system, and hallways, stairs and exits will all be designed to meet ADA standards.

Where will employees and visitors park?
In cooperation with the City of Iowa City, Johnson County plans to close off Harrison Street for parking. A public city ramp at Court Street will also be available for parking.

Will the historic Courthouse be utilized?
Yes. The historic Courthouse will continue to be used for offices and courtrooms. The Courthouse has approximately 25,000 square feet that will be used as follows:

• The secure public entrance to the Courthouse and annex will be on the lower level of the current courthouse.

• The County Attorney’s Office will be moved to the second floor

• Three or four courtrooms, along with judges’ chambers and jury deliberation rooms, will continue to be used for civil trials and other court business.

How much will the Courthouse annex cost and how will it be paid for?
A bond referendum will be placed on the November 4, 2014, general election ballot. To pass, the proposal requires a 60% supermajority vote.
The approved bond language reads:
“Shall the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, issue its general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding the amount of $ 33,400,000 for the purpose of erecting and equipping a County Courthouse Annex, to solve current safety, security and space needs of the court operations, in a structure to be located adjacent to, incorporating, and connected to, the existing historic courthouse?”
It is estimated that a $33.4 million bond would have an annual tax impact of $17.38 per $100,000 of assessed value on residential property if the bond is financed for 20 years.

Are there jail cells in the proposed annex?
No. There are no jail cells in the current or future plans or design of the Johnson County Courthouse annex. There are two inmate holding cells planned for the first floor of the facility, for the purpose of securing inmates between their delivery from the Jail to the Courthouse and prior to their appearance in court. There are also inmate holding areas outside four of the courtrooms. The language used in the bond referendum restricts the usage of the bond funds for court purposes.

Will the building incorporate sustainability features?
Yes. The Board of Supervisors has set a minimum goal of achieving Silver LEED certification by addressing sustainability through water efficiency, energy and atmosphere features, materials and resources used, indoor environmental quality, innovation, and design process. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Two of the authors appearing at the Book Festival have been nominated for the National Book Award!

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

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