March 03, 2021

COVID-19 cases rising in Union County

Public health nurse Robin Sevier cautioned residents to continue to be diligent in wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing during the Union County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday at the Union County Courthouse.

“I know it’s a broken record,” Sevier said. “After so long everybody kind of forgets ... but our cases are going up.”

Sevier said the number of COVID-19 cases in the county is now sitting at 104 with a 14 day positivity rate of 4.4% — the number used to determine if schools will continue in-person learning. Some of the new cases are coming from the college, Sevier said, but they are not coming from any one group.

“It’s a variety,” she said. “It’s not like it’s a cluster of one location or one business.”

The public health department continues to prepare for both the flu vaccine and the promised COVID-19 vaccine. Sevier said the state is recommending drive-thru vaccine clinics, but she is hesitant to plan a drive-thru with the variability of the weather. The timing of the COVID-19 vaccine is still unknown as is what type of vaccine will be received.

“We’re trying to plan ahead with what little information we have,” she said.


Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell presented a resolution to the board to request Reimbursement COVID-19 Government Fund Relief from the CARES Act in the amount of $5,585.68 to reimburse county funds used to combat COVID-19 from March to July 31 from the . This includes personal protective equipment, sanitizing supplies, masks and dispensers for the entrance to the courthouse, and Plexiglas barriers at the service windows. The resolution passed unanimously. Supervisor Ron Riley was absent.

A second wave of funding will cover the period from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31. Hysell plans to research whether this would cover digitizing transfer books — the records from when someone buys a property — back to the1800s. Hysell said the cost in the auditor’s office would be approximately $30,000. The plan would also include digitizing information from the recorder’s office. Digitizing these records would allow those who do not want to physically enter the courthouse during the pandemic to access the records and would keep them accessible to the public in case of another shut down.

Hysell said new rules for elections will allow her to place a box outside to collect absentee ballots. The box must be on county property, bolted to the ground and under 24-hour surveillance.

Secondary Roads

Union County Roads Superintendent Al Hysell will attend the board meeting in lieu of the Union County engineer until a new engineer can be hired.

Al Hysell gave a report of projects worked on in the last week and supervisor chair Rick Friday passed on some road complaints he had received.

The recent rains have brought to light some issues with county roads, Al Hysell said.

“What you get into after it’s dry for that long, some of the roads that don’t have a lot of rock in them, it turns to fluffy powder. And then when it does rain ... it just turns to mud.”

There are 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency projects remaining to be completed. Al Hysell said the department has plans to finish three to four more of them if there is dry weather. Before leaving Zach Gunsolley requested an extension from FEMA, but that will not be sufficient since the six-month allowable time frame would only include winter months. Another extension will be needed, Al Hysell said.

Although some FEMA reimbursements have been received, there is approximately $400,000 “on the table” Al Hysell said. Any funds received from FEMA are deposited into the reserve funds.

The secondary roads department is working on an equipment list to use some of those funds to help the department operate more efficiently. In the Aug. 27 meeting, the board authorized $400,000 to be spent on equipment.

Two utility permits were approved for Windstream on REA Road near the CIPCO plant and Iowa Communications Network on 160th Street.

The board voted to allow technician Chad Needham to review and approve utility permits on receipt and inspection. Al Hysell will still bring these permits to the board after approval until a new engineer can be hired.

Liquor license

The board retroactively approved a liquor license for the Cromwell Harvest Fest that was held Saturday. Sandy Hysell said the request was not received in time to be approved at last week’s meeting, but the paperwork was in place beforehand including the dram insurance, which had already been approved by the state. Supervisor Dennis Brown said the previous year’s request for a license was received just in time to be approved. He suggested a letter be sent to the festival’s organizers.