Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 18, 2016

Sullivan’s Salvos     2/23/16

In this edition:

*RIP Justice Scalia
*Four Beautiful Words…
*Representative Stutsman to Retire
*Ranger Campbell to Retire
*Shelter Update
*Rural Roads and Bridges
*County Budget Hearing
*Bowl For Kids’ Sake
*Did You Know?

*RIP Justice Scalia
There may not be a person out there with whom I disagree more. It is really, truly hard for me to see anything beyond a man who has dedicated his whole privileged life to making life harder for millions of the most vulnerable Americans.

But then I think about Justice Scalia attending the opera with Justice Bader Ginsberg, and the two of them sitting there weeping. If they can get to that place, perhaps all of us can get to that place. RIP, Justice Scalia.

*Four Beautiful Words…
         Four beautiful words… pitchers and catchers report! Need I say more?

*Representative Stutsman to Retire
         State Representative Sally Stutsman announced her retirement last week following two terms in the Iowa Legislature.

         As you probably know, Sally was a member of the Board of Supervisors from 1994-2013. I had the pleasure of serving with her from 2005-13.

         And it was a pleasure! Sally was an excellent Supervisor. The public will never fully appreciate many of the changes Sally (along with current State Senator, then Supervisor Joe Bolkcom) instituted while on the Board.

         A lot of these things are not sexy, but they are critical to a well-run organization. Sally got the County to start an HR Department. They began performance evals and created pay scales. They wrote job descriptions.

         When Sally got elected there was a lot of opposition to investing in technology, but Johnson County forged ahead and became a leader. Johnson County invested in GIS mapping before other counties.

         Sally created a Social Services Director position to coordinate all the many programs and agencies in which Johnson County invests. She led the push for our Health and Human Services building, which has saved taxpayers money and improved services. That Board updated and upgraded the Medical Examiner’s Office.

         Sally helped to lead the biggest change in Planning and Zoning in Johnson County history. Everything has been different since the so-called 1998 Land Use Plan. It was a watershed moment. I cannot overstate this - it was a really big deal!

         Perhaps most importantly, Sally helped get Board meetings televised. That brought the public into Board business in a way they had never been before.

         As you can see, Sally leaves a long record of accomplishment. She was a great Supervisor, and it was my pleasure and privilege to serve with her.

         The Iowa Legislature is a different animal. It is much tougher to build a record of the sort Sally built at the County. But she remained a hard working, thoughtful, accessible Representative of the people.

         Congratulations on your retirement, Sally! Thanks for all your years of outstanding service!

*Ranger Campbell to Retire
         Ranger Dan Campbell will retire after spending over 30 years serving visitors to Kent Park. A retirement reception will be held from 1-3 PM on Friday, February 26 at the Operations Center at Kent Park.

         Congratulations, Dan, and thank you for your many years of outstanding service!

*Shelter Update
From our friends at Shelter House: As we pass month 2 of our low-barrier Winter Emergency Shelter being active and keeping the most vulnerable individuals out of the cold, we wanted to share our statistics and successes: In just over two months, we have provided 1,978 nights of shelter to 148 unique individuals, already surpassing our total last year of 120 individuals.

         Great work everyone!

*Rural Roads and Bridges
         The Johnson County Board of Supervisors recently voted to replace an old bridge on Taft Avenue SE. The bridge was weight limited and structurally obsolete, so something needed to be done. The question is, what to do?

         Taft Avenue SE in this area is a gravel road east of Hills and northwest of Lone Tree. The road only gets about 30 cars per day. It is pretty safe to say that the only people who use this section of road are the farm families that live in the area.

         I will GUARANTEE you that in most of Iowa’s 99 counties, this road would be closed. Barricades would be put up, and the road would get no more gravel, reverting to level B status. You could no longer go through – you would have to go around.

         One can see where a county would make such a decision. While closing the road creates a financial hardship for a few families, it is just a few people. In an era of tight budgets, a road such as Taft would be a casualty.

         I am extremely proud of the fact that Johnson County has chosen a different path. We will be spending $170,000 to replace the bridge with a timber structure that should last 75 or more years.

         I think this is actually a good investment. Agriculture is big business in Johnson County, particularly in the southern part of the county. This bridge only costs a bit over $2000 per year to provide; meanwhile, look at the economics of the ag products:

         The bridge immediately serves about 720 acres. Let’s say the land is planted in corn, and gets the average yield for Johnson County of about 180 bushels per acre. And let’s say corn prices are a relatively low $3.50 per bushel. The gross annual economic impact of that little area is $453,600! It would seem to me that an investment of $2000 to help the area farmers generate $453,600 is a pretty good deal!

         I understand that the farmers would still plant the fields even if we closed the road. It would just cost them more to get the grain to market. But again, I see this as a very solid investment in our economic infrastructure.

         Then the County Engineer said the bridge is scheduled to be replaced in April and May. I asked if that could be June and July, since April and May is when planting takes place. But the County Engineer said the timeline was already set, and moving this project would have a domino effect on other projects.

         So, expect a new bridge on Taft Avenue SE by June of 2016. I am proud of the fact that this will be happening.

*County Budget Hearing
         Johnson County is holding its annual public hearing on the County budget on Monday, February 29 at 5:30 pm at the County Administration Building, 913 S. Dubuque Street in Iowa City.

         This is a great opportunity for the public to weigh in on the FY17 budget, which commences on July 1, 2016 and runs through June 30, 2017. For more info, call 356-6000.

*Bowl For Kids’ Sake
I chose to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters' Bowl for Kids' Sake because too many young people are struggling at school and at home.

Help me reach my Bowl for Kids' Sake goal by making a donation today. Your donation will help change a child's life for the better, forever.

*DID YOU KNOW?  While the total amount varies from year to year, Johnson County spends about $10,000,000 each year on the Secondary Roads system.

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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