Controversial topics discussed at joint county meeting

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GARNER, Iowa – A public forum and joint board of supervisors meeting between Winnebago County supervisors and Hancock County supervisors was held Thursday night to discuss moving the Hancock County dispatchers and inmates to the new Winnebago County Law Enforcement Center.

Those opposed to the idea filled the Hancock County Courthouse, voicing concerns of county spending, job retention, tax dollars and moving to approve the decision too quickly.

“I would say 99 percent of the people in there are opposed to the idea,” says Deb Schmidt of Garner.

Passing the item would mean all dispatchers from both counties would have to reapply for their jobs and two employees would lose employment. Others questioned the savings and how much the county would actually benefit, ultimately leading to both boards voting to postpone the decision.

“I understand completely that there are concerns and there may be some questions that are still unanswered,” says Hancock County Attorney David Solheim. “We don’t have every detail right now. This is an overview meeting, kind of a broad brush, are we going to move forward or not. That’s fair if they want to wait until we balance all of the costs and weigh the benefits.”

But the decision on where to house the inmates falls on the sheriff.

“We are probably moving our inmates to another jail. They will sleep in another jail, not here,” says Sheriff Scott Dodd with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office. “The liability factor for me, the sheriff, for all of our staff, the jailers, the deputies and then back to the board here, all of our citizens that we serve, our liability is very high.”

For many, they just want the board to take more time before making a decision.

“Time is what we need, haste makes waste and I think this is one situation that we need to take very slowly,” says Schmidt.

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