The new Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors will determine the fate of the county-owned "north building."
The current Board voted 3-2 Monday morning to table a decision on whether to remove the building, which is attached to Wellington Place, a privately run care facility near Freeport. It leases its facilities from the county for $1 per year.
Four new supervisors elected in November will take office Jan. 1. John Logsdon is the only incumbent returning to the Board.
Not in compliance
Wellington Place Administrator Deb Vondersitt met with the supervisors in July to request the north building be taken down. She said it doesn't meet state fire code and that Wellington Place officials have been given until May to bring the north building into compliance or Wellington Place will no longer be certified as a nursing facility.
Constructed in the 1880s, the north building is one of the original county "poor farm" buildings. Several county residents have expressed interest in keeping the building, possibly "mothballing" it for future reuse.
Logsdon, the county's liaison to Wellington Place, said the Board has been "sitting on" Wellington Place's request and it has had a "multitude of public input" on the matter. He said he agreed with the position of Wellington Place officials and planned to make a motion to have the building taken down.
Asbestos being removed
The county has already contracted a firm for asbestos removal for $14,240, and the work is taking place this week.
The county has other bids for demolition of the building and related work from Bruening Rock Products: demolition, $24,758; $75 per ton for landfilled material; $60 per oad for fill materials; and $25,500 for rerouting a water line for Wellington Place.
Supervisor Bill Ibanez said taking down the building for Wellington Place could be considered "a gift" and a violation under state statute. He said the Board should obtain a "ruling" from County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten before considering such action.
Ibanez said he also didn't feel comfortable obligating a future Board to execute the current Board's actions. He made a motion to table the matter until the new Board convenes in January.
Logsdon disputed taking down the building would be a gift.
"We're not giving anything to anybody," he said.
'Working for county?'
Ibanez said Logsdon is "pushing" for the building to be taken down.
"Sometimes I wonder if you're working for the county or Wellington Place ... this is a rush to judgment. It's more appropriate for a future Board to hear," Ibanez said.
Logsdon said he's always "working for the county," adding that he was a little "offended" by the accusation made by Ibanez. Logsdon said this Board of Supervisors could make a decision on Wellington Place and that a future Board could always "revisit" the matter.
Supervisor Lonnie Pierce, who seconded the motion to table the decision, said he didn't feel the Board had "firm enough numbers" about what costs the county would be responsible for and what Wellington Place would be willing to pay should the building be taken down.
Decorah resident Janelle Pavlovec asked if the county advertised for bids for the north building demolition, and Logsdon said it did not. He said he contacted three local companies about the job because he wanted to have a Winneshiek County contractor get the work. Bruening was the only firm that submitted bids, he said.
Sell Wellington Place
Pavlovec also asked whether the county would ever sell Wellington Place to the corporation that's currently running it, or "whoever might want to" buy it.
Logsdon said he doesn't see that happening, any more than he envisions the county- owned Winneshiek Medical Centr being sold.
Supervisors Ibanez, Pierce and Steve Bouska voted in favor of tabling the decision, while Board Chairman Les Askelson and Logsdon voted against it.
Newly elected supervisors, Dean Thompson, Mark Kuhn, Dennis Karlsbroten and Floyd Ashbacher, along with Logsdon, will take the oath of office Wednesday, Jan. 2, at 8:45 a.m. at the Courthouse.