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Supervisors OK Aquatics Center funds

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Board pledges $50,000 to project; public hearing set for proposed lake

By Paul Struck, Editor

In Tuesday's regular meeting, the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors pledged $10,000 per year for a five-year period to benefit the proposed new Cherokee Aquatics Center in Gillette Park, and also approved sending a letter of support for the Aquatics Center Committee to include with its grant application for Vision Iowa "CAT" (Community Attraction and Tourism) funding.

Needless to say, the supervisors' action was greatly appreciated by the Aquatics Center Committee, headed by John Cook and Dr. Robert Martin.

"We are thrilled!" exclaimed Cook, whose committee is in the midst of a serious fund-raising campaign for the proposed new Aquatics Center and enhancement renovations to the surrounding Gillette Park on the city's west side.

"This is truly an appropriate use of part of the sales tax funds the county has for rural development. This project is truly rural development."

The $50,000 pledge hikes the total raised locally to date to $1.83 million, about $800,000 of that coming from the George Bacon Estate funds designated to benefit youth and recreational pursuits in Cherokee.

The committee is requesting $1 million from the CAT grant application for the proposed $3.6 million total project, including $2.8 million for the new Aquatics Center, and $800,000 for recreational improvements and enhancements to Gillette Park.

"The widespread support from this community and our business community has been just incredible," added Cook. "The supervisors realize that this project is truly for the public and will be an affordable and accessible attraction for all county residents to use, whether rural or city.

"It will rival the annual rodeo and Sanford Museum as major attractions in Cherokee County. And it fits in beautifully with our renovated downtown and other past projects (WITCC, new Middle School, Washington High track and football stadium, Wellness Center, etc) that this community has embraced and made happen.

"We're building on the past work done and it feels great to see the support the Aquatics Center is generating. You can see the pride involved here as we all come to realize this project is now doable. This will be a Northwest Iowa jewel that many will talk about and write about."

Cook said the fund-raising will continue because another $1.8 million is needed to complete the total project that emphasizes and is geared at total family involvement, fun and entertainment at affordable prices.

Any commitment from CAT grant funds would be forthcoming in October, according to Cook.

In other business Tuesday, the Supervisors approved a recommendation from Sheriff Dave Scott to increase the salary of Barb Staver, now a Civil Deputy, $1 per hour, raising her wages from $13.40 per hour to $14.40 per hour effective Friday, July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

The board also approved a 75-cent per hour raise for Chief Jailer Marlene Ebert, hiking her salary from $13.25 per hour to $14.00 per hour, also effective Friday.

All other county employees previously received a 40-cents per hour raise.

The board also heard from Renee Braun of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about the feasibility study for a proposed lake north of Cherokee. There will be a public hearing with the NRCS, DNR and all interested citizens at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 28 in the board room at the Hy-Vee Distribution Center.

Proposed and discussed through the years by area supporters, the lake project has been given new life by first-year County Supervisor Terry Graybill, who made it a central focus of his campaign in his successful run for supervisor.

The board also approved the annual premium payment for Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance to Miller Mac Insurance. The $194,000 premium is due Friday, July 1.

The supervisors also gave final approval for the 2005-2006 budget appropriations effective Friday, the start of the new fiscal year.

The board will next meet on Tuesday, July 12.

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