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County Board approves highway safety improvements

By Kendra Hennis 
The meeting of the Douglas County Board was called to order at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15. 

During approval of the consent agenda, the board approved Local Public Agency Engineering Service Agreement FY 2024 local Highway Safety Improvement Program, Section 20-00133-01-PV. With this, they additionally approved Resolution 22-R-12, to approve MFT funds for Highway Safety Improvements Fund (HSIP) Section 20-001330-01-PV. The HSIP Uniform Grant Application is for Safety Improvements required for the construction of the joint roadway project between the Village of Arthur, County of Moutrie, and County of Douglas. It was noted that HSIP funding is 90 percent federal and 10 percent funding that will be split from the Village of Arthur, County of Moutrie, and the County of Douglas. The fiscal year 2024 HSIP Uniform Grant Application is for an amount of $5,749,289.

Douglas County Health Department Administrator Amanda Minor then presented her report to the board. She commented that 50 percent of Douglas County has received the first COVID-19 vaccine. That the county had been seeing a rise of positive cases of COVID last week. Minor reported that they had been working with Libman’s to respond to an outbreak at the facility. Minor additionally stated that the health department is currently working under reduced hours for COVID testing, Tuesdays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by visiting the Douglas County Health Department’s website, She also noted that the health department has been working to get out and inform the community of the other resources they offer, like the Summer Meals Program. 

Regional Workplace Center employee and WIOWA’s Douglas County representative Danielle Cruzan then presented to the board that she is doing a lot of community outreach to inform people of the services they can provide to residents in the community. These include job training grants, grants to return to school in any WIOWA-approved program, assistance with childcare, and many more. Cruzan is located in the office on Main Street in Tuscola on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. 

The board also:
* Approved the minutes of the May 18, 2022 regular board minutes and the May 31, 2022 special board minutes.

* Approved the payments of the county’s financial obligations. 

* Approved the reports of fees of county offices.

* Approved Section 5311 program agreement for fiscal year 2023 with the Coles County Center on Aging. It was noted that these grants provide capital, planning, and operating assistance to states to support public transportation in rural areas with populations of less than 50,000, where many residents often rely on public transit to reach their destinations. The program also provides funding for state and national training and technical assistance through the Rural Transportation Assistance Program. 

* Approved Resolution 22-R-11, an extension of declaration of emergency due to COVID-19 in Douglas County.

* Approved the hiring of Kevin Nolan as full-time public defender/full time employee for Douglas County. The salary approved will be 90 percent of the State’s Attorney’s salary, of which 2/3 will be reimbursed by the state. 

* Approved county credit card for fuel purchases. It was explained that the previously-issued cards with Wex will be canceled and new cards will be opened for the Douglas County Sheriff, Coroner, Probation, and Animal Control with a $5,000 limit with First Neighbor Bank. This is due to multiple issues with Wex and the board county wanting to work with a local option. These cards are to be used only for fuel and emergency road repair. 

* Thanked Ford of Tuscola and Cabot for their generous donations of new window air conditioning units at the Douglas County Animal Shelter. 

* Approved Resolution 22-R-13, adjusting mileage reimbursement rate for a time period of July to December, 2022 due to rising fuel costs. The new rate will be $62.5 cents per mile for private vehicles used for official travel. 

* Adjourned until the June 24 meeting at 9 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is for the board to discuss equipment upgrades for the 911 response area.

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