Tuesday, October 3, 2023

County board approves site for administration building

The Johnson County board of commissioners held its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Aug. 25, in Vienna.

One of the primary items on the agenda was approval of a site for the new county office complex. The board has for several months now been reviewing recommendations, considering costs and construction options and spending many hours in consultation with other professionals. Out of all this research, came the primary recommendation for the complex to be located in downtown Vienna, in an area bounded by Main Street, 7th Street, Vine Street and 6th Street. This site was the only one that would keep county offices in the core of the city, provide area for future development, expand areas of green space rather than destroy green space areas and enhance eligibility for grant money assistance from several sources.

County commissioners Jeff Mears and Phil Stewart review an engineer’s draft of how the site could look once completed.

A letter submitted by the Vienna mayor and the Vienna City council to the board of commissioners stated: “The mayor and city council of the City of Vienna would like to take this opportunity to express their upmost support for this project and its support of the downtown Vienna site as the location for the administrative building and courtroom project. The addition of the administrative building and courtroom would not only continue a great tradition, but would also greatly enhance the economic activity in downtown Vienna benefitting both the City of Vienna as well as the citizens of Johnson County.” Based on all the information and recommendations received, the board approved the downtown site as the location of the proposed new county building complex with a vote of two “yes” votes and one “no” vote. Commissioners Jeff Mears and Ernie Henshaw voted “yes” and commissioner Phil Stewart voted “no” stating that he felt it was too early to select a definite site because the actual funding for the project has not yet been fully determined.

The only other item of unfinished business on the agenda was the topic of retirees’ insurance. The board is still gathering additional information concerning options available and costs involved, and this will be continued at the next regular meeting.

Representatives from Heartland Ag addressed the board with a request similar to others already discussed, asking that repair work and purchases concerning county vehicles be kept local as much as possible. The board is in full agreement with this and has already put plans in place to help facilitate this.

Issues with repairing certain areas of the Wildcat Bluff Cemetery were again brought up. A lot of the work has now been completed but there is still a lot to be done. A bid was received by local workers for $1,000 to remove old tree stumps, fill holes, finish ditch work and cleanup. The commissioners unanimously approved this proposal so that the cemetery can be restored to what it should be.

A statement of thanks from the Southern Pride Senior Program was received by the commissioners for the work performed by the county on the parking lot in West Vienna.

Before adjourning, commissioners approved payment of county bills in the amount of $61,686.48 and highway department bills of $38,716.53.