MAHASKA COUNTY – On Monday, Supervisors and the public heard relatively vague plans for what would be a law enforcement center upgrade project. The motion to approve the upgrade project passed at the time, but now more solid plans have been unveiled.
“It’s actually three different projects,” said Jamey Robinson, Director of the Mahaska County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), who presented the idea for consideration before the Board of Supervisors on Monday in the absence of Mahaska County Sheriff Paul DeGeest.
According to Robinson, the first project focuses on the actual Sheriff’s Office itself, with the intent to add more counter space for working with the public.
“Currently the Sheriff’s Office has a small window that they do gun permits or update offender registries and other information,” he said. “It’s not real private and when there are several gun permits needed at once, there is no room.”
During the meeting on Monday, Robinson stated that Mahaska County has issued around 1,000 gun permits so far just in 2016. He also said there are also over 70 sex offenders to keep tabs on coming in and out of the office at any given time.
“They have to come in and register and change their address or add a vehicle and some of that stuff is kind of private information, so if there are three other people in line they really don’t have anywhere to go for that,” he said during the meeting.
According to Robinson, the small counter workspace area is just not efficient enough to keep up with the needs of the County.
Robinson said that the second project will involve converting a closet into an office for the benefit of both the Oskaloosa Police Department as well as the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Department.
“With the expansion of the Mahaska County EMA, we currently need a place for the Deputy EMA Coordinator and with space being tight, neither the Sheriff or the police department have any space they can go without and this was the best solution,” he explained.
Lastly, the final project of this three-piece set will allow an update to the current network switches, allowing all departments to access the call-taking system as well as the State of Iowa network. This is vital to running an efficient agency and keeping the facilities up to par with ever-changing technology systems.
“I talked to Paul about all of the changes he wanted to do and I don’t have any issues with it,” said Supervisor Mark Doland during the meeting.
While Doland said he knew that the Sheriff’s Department didn’t have anything in the budget this fiscal year for such a project, he said he believed there was a fund the money could come from.
The vote passed as the Supervisors voted in agreement, but Supervisor Willie Van Weelden had reservations about approving a project as the Sheriff did not send any hard figures for cost at that time to present to the Board.
According to Robinson, the overall total cost for all three of these projects will be just over $9,000.
“All of the funds will come from the remaining balance of the last Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funds that was set up initially to fund this facility,” he said.
Mahaska County Sheriff DeGeest was unavailable for comment at the time of this publication.
Story provided by Hailey Brown of The Oskaloosa Herald