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Floyd County makes offer for communications tower site

Floyd County makes offer for communications tower site
Proposed location of a 300-foot radio communications tower in west Floyd County. Press graphic with Google Maps
By Bob Steenson,

The Floyd County Board of Supervisors made an offer Monday morning on a small piece of land adjoining the county’s Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve near Rockford, to be used as the site of a 300-foot-tall radio communications tower.

The board also approved reinstating a program that offers interest-free loans to help veterans purchase homes, approved purchasing new county voting equipment that should be available to be used by the primary elections this spring, and continued work on the county budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

The offer for property for the communications tower was for $15,000 for 1½ acres of farmland owned by Stephen Schlader, plus a 15% share for 30 years in any revenue that the county earns from leasing antenna space on the tower to other businesses or agencies.

Schlader said he needed to do his “due diligence” on the offer, and said he would try to have a reply by the board’s next regular meeting, on Monday, March 4.

The supervisors had gone into closed session with County Attorney Todd Prichard to discuss what their offer would be, then made the offer to Schlader, who was at the meeting, after they returned to open session.

The property adjoins the Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve on the southwest edge of the park, north of 215th Street.

If Schlader accepts the offer it will fill in one large piece of the puzzle that is making up a new $5 million countywide telecommunications system for emergency responders, including all law enforcement officers and firefighters in the county.

Motorola Solutions, the company designing the system and providing the equipment, and Pyramid Network Services, the company providing the tower, had identified an area around the Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve as the best tower location to improve communications in that side of the county.

There had initially been some consideration of placing a tower on the Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve property to save the cost of purchasing land, but that idea was dropped after an outpouring of support for the park by people locally and from across the country who wanted to prevent the beauty and nature of the park being marred by a large tower surrounded by a chain link fence.

The park is also the location of a statue memorializing Rockford Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, who was killed in Afghanistan in August 2011 when the Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down while transporting a quick reaction force team to reinforce a unit of Army Rangers.

Schlader and Prichard talked about access to the property and to the rest of the field that would remain Schlader’s property

There is an existing field access at the site that would be the basis for an access road for tower construction and maintenance, and Prichard said the county would grant Schlader an access easement so he could use it to get in and out of his field.

The new communications system will make the county part of ISICS, the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System.

Also at the meeting the board:

  • Agreed to revive the Home Base Iowa initiative in Floyd County, to offer $10,000 interest-free loans for five years to veterans to be used to help purchase a home within the county. The money can be used by a veteran or the spouse of a deceased veteran as part of a down payment, or for other expenses.

The county intends to allocate up to $120,000 in program investment over three years, allowing up to four veterans per year to receive the funds. Details and applications are available by contacting Tim Fox, CEO of the Charles City Area Development Corp., which will administer the program and be paid $250 for each applicant assisted.

  • Approved spending about $78,000 for equipment and $9,000 annually for software and firmware updates and maintenance fees for new election equipment.

County Auditor Gloria Carr, who as part of her position is also commissioner of elections, said the county’s existing equipment is nearing the end of its useful life. She also said if the county is going to get new equipment she wanted it for the primaries so election workers can be trained on it and use it before the much busier general election in November.

  • Approved the job description for the position of county environmental health specialist/zoning administrator/E911 signs administrator and agreed to advertise for applicants. Applications are due March 22.

Supervisor Chair Mark Kuhn said the North Iowa Area Council of Governments is available to help with the zoning functions, and Jennifer Solomon, the assistant to that combined position, said a neighboring county can help with water inspections if needed before someone is hired.

  • Got closer to completing work on the county budget. The board plans to set the date and time for a public “max tax” public hearing on the budget at its next meeting. The total county property tax rate for the 2024-25 fiscal year that begins July 1 is expected to be reduced from the current levy, while still reaching the county’s goal of at least 25% carryover funding in the general fund, general supplemental fund and rural services fund.

Most county employees will get 3% pay increases starting July 1, except for a few employees who were approved for larger raises. The board has not officially passed the Compensation Board recommendations for elected officials’ salaries, which were a 3.5% increase for the county attorney, 5.07% for the county recorder, 5.9% for the treasurer, 6.85% for the auditor and 10.06% for the sheriff.

The compensation board also recommended a 3.5% increase for each of the county supervisors, but the board voted last week to announce that the supervisors would again be taking no pay increase in the next fiscal year.

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