Iowa City bridge may be named for Civil War general

July 23, 2009

IOWA CITY — The Highway 6 bridge in Iowa City may be named in honor of a Civil War general from Burlington.

The Iowa chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War wants to name the structure for John Corse.

Les Weber, the group’s treasurer, went to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors informal meeting Thursday seeking the county’s blessing for the project. The board expressed support for it and will vote on a proposal next week. Weber plans to go before the Iowa City Council next week.

Two plaques would be put on the bridge. They’d be paid for by Weber’s organization. The state, which maintains the bridge, likely would mount the plaques, said Dena Gray-Fisher, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The “Encyclopedia of the American Civil War” and other sources say Corse was a brevetted major general in the Union Army, which means he would have received the higher rank but not higher pay.


Johnson County supervisor: Could we sue consultant?

July 1, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

Iowa City – Rod Sullivan was not happy during a discussion of jail and court needs Wednesday.

The Johnson County supervisor didn’t like that, after several years of planning for a combined justice center, some were suggesting  looking at a split jail and courthouse.

And he wasn’t happy with the consultant the board hired two years ago to study its options. In fact, he wondered outloud if the county could sue the firm, Dubuque-based Durrant Group Inc.

“We did not get our money’s worth out of this,” he said.

(A story about the meeting can be found here and in Thursday’s Gazette.)

Durrant was paid about $70,000 and, after more than a year of work, came up with four possible locations for a combined justice center.

But other county officials, including County Attorney Janet Lyness, said Wednesday that the Durrant study did not lay out what it would cost to renovate the courthouse and build a jail at a separate site.

That’s a scenario that is now being considered with the Press-Citizen building, and the county may need to pay for another study.

Wednesday was not the first time supervisors had expressed frustration with Durrant. In April 2008, Durrant’s Michael Lewis unveiled for the supervisors his preliminary assessment of possible sites for a facility.

But some supervisors said at the time that they expected more detailed information, particularly cost estimates. Also, Lewis’ final report was late.

Some of that frustration came out when Lewis asked the supervisors to narrow the list of sites to two or three.

“I don’t feel that we can answer your question because I don’t feel like you’ve done what we asked you to do,” said Sullivan, who was the board’s chairman at the time.

Lewis eventually came back with more detailed plans, and county officials later that year zeroed in on a site south of the existing courthouse as their preferred location for a justic center.

They liked that it was close to downtown and had easy access to public transportation and nearby facilities.

Rettig declares for supervisor

June 8, 2009

By Gregg HenniganRettig

IOWA CITY –  An Iowa City woman with a history of political involvement — for Democrats and Republicans — announced on Monday her candidacy for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

Janelle Rettig, 44, of 110 Shrader Rd., will run as a Democrat in the June 2010 primary. She is a self-employed consultant working as the development director for the Iowa Bicycle Coalition.

She said after years of working on issues from the outside, she wanted to get directly involved in decision making.

“There are many things that I care about — the environment, human services and good government — that the Board of Supervisors have enormous influence over,” she said. “And I think that it’s time for me to move to a position of working on the issues from the inside, where you can effect the actual greatest change, or the greatest support.”

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Tiffin, county disagree on law enforcement coverage

June 4, 2009

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY – The city of Tiffin is weighing its public safety needs against its bottom line.

Tiffin, which is a few miles west of Coralville and has a population of about 1,700, has no police force, so it contracts with Johnson County to have sheriff’s deputies patrol the town.

The contract is up for renewal July 1. Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, citing the growth of the town — its population has nearly doubled this decade — and the opening of a new high school in the fall, recommended the town increase its hours from the current 1,300 a year to 1,560 in the new contract.

The City Council, however, originally said it wanted to decrease its hours to 1,170. View a breakdown of the proposal, provided by Pulkrabek, at the end of this story.

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Rettig for supervisor?

May 20, 2009

By Gregg HenniganRettig

IOWA CITY — Janelle Rettig is getting some (early) love for a possible run for a seat on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

A Facebook group with 141 members, as of this morning, has formed to encourage her to run. Current Supervisor Rod Sullivan is a member, as is county Auditor Tom Slockett and county Recorder Kim Painter. Other notable names are state Rep. Mary Mascher, Iowa City Council members Mike Wright and Ross Wilburn and Coralville council member Tom Gill.

Retigg said she is “in the exploratory mode” and gathering information on a possible run.

“I’m grateful for the early encouragement,” she said of the Facebook group.

The supervisors election isn’t until next year, when the seats currently held by Sally Stutsman and Larry Meyers are up for reelection.

In Johnson County, the real race for supervisor usually is the Democratic primary, which will be in June 2010.  A Republican has not served as a Johnson County supervisor since 1962.