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I-Green Learning Center goes black

The I-Green Learning Center is no more.

During the public comments portion the Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, director Phil Stender told the board that he would be returning ownership of the land the facility was located on back to the county.

“At this time, we have no funds and our intention is to dissolve the corporation,” Stender said. “I apologize for the late timing in coming to you with this. We didn’t know we weren’t going to have funds until late last week. My request this time is that the county release us from our contractual obligation.”

The I-Green facility was located at the site of the former Jasper County Care Facility. In 2010, Stender proposed to the board that I-Green would pay $550,000 in annual payments of $33,328 for the next four years. When payments reached $200,000, the county will forgive the remainder, $350,000, as part of a grant to facilitate the construction and operation of the facility.

Stender said they attempted to garner more funding for the program through state legislation, but last Thursday, Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed the bill supporting the facility.

“We set out to train 900 (individuals) and we succeeded in our goal and trained 1,443 people throughout the life of the grant,” Stender said. “We ran out of funds from the grant in February or so and finished with our training under that grant.”

All three members of the board expressed their disappointment in the facility’s closure.

“It had a lot of good intentions and I’m sorry to see it end this way,” board member Dennis Carpenter said.

“The way you approached us with this (project) was very honorable,” board member Joe Brock said. “You didn’t take advantage of our charity and it only cost us time.”

“I hate this. I believed in the program,” board chair Dennis Stevenson said.

The board can’t officially accept Stender’s forfeiture of the contract until next week when it is on the agenda.  Stender seemed very upset about the closing and commented he won’t be able to attend next week’s meeting because he has to look for a job. He did however seem proud of what he accomplished in the two-year time span.

“The end result is something that we can be very proud of,” Stender said. “It would have been nice to continue.”

Jasper County Community Services Director/Central Point Coordinator Jody Eaton asked the board to sign a number of contracts; however, the most essential contract was the 28E agreement for the county to join Central Iowa Community Services Region.

Eaton and the county had previously made their intentions to join the region public on May 7 and by approving the contract Tuesday, it became official.

“By approving this 28E agreement we can move forward with this transition, but we can’t move forward without the governing body,” Eaton said.

Approving the 28E agreement will allow the county to move forward with its efforts to form a mental health services region with Boone, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Madison, Marshall and Story counties.

The next step for the region is to create a regional board, form a management team from the collective community services directors, create a regional budget and fund management system and eventually develop a regional mental health plan.

State legislation requires all regions to be active June 30, 2014.

Eaton also presented the board with a number of contracts that needed approval for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Eaton said the contracts were necessary while the county was still in transition period with the region.

Her requests were approved and the following contracts were extended for a year:

• Capstone Behavioral Healthcare, which provides mental health services, chemical dependency counseling and residential and community-based care for the county. Capstone also provides emergency services for the county for an additional $4,000 a month. Stevenson commented, “We pay for emergency services one way or another. I think it’s one of the most important things we do and we get a lot of bang for our buck.”

• HIRTA, which will provide transportation services for citizens that meet certain criteria and were approved by Eaton.

• Optimae Life Services, which provides mental health care services at its facility in Des Moines or at an individual’s home.

• Progress Industries, whose CEO Dan Skokan was in attendance, also had its contract renewed with the county. PI offers a wide range of comprehensive services for people with disabilities and other life challenges, including employment, activities, and work force training.

In other business:

• GIS Director Laurie Jackson received approval on canceling the county’s contract with The Schneider Corporation of Indianapolis.  The county contracted the company to perform Jackson’s duties while she was ill last year.  The contract was one that would automatically renew and Jackson said that it is not necessary now that she is back. The move will save the county $3,000 annually.

• The Colfax Senior Citizens Center had its contract approved to continue providing meals to citizens under the county’s Elderly Nutrition program. Elderly Nutrition Director Kelli Van Manen said that Colfax facility has been wonderful.

• Pam Olson represented the Jasper County Secondary Roads Department and presented the final resolution for a bridge replacement for the bridge at Meadow Avenue East over Cherry Creek. The measure was approved and Olson said that it would have to be presented to the Iowa Department of Transportation by Sept. 17.

• Jasper County Human Resources Director Dennis Simon received approval for the two hiring resolutions he presented to the board. Brittany Eckert and Terri McKinney began work for the Congregate Meals department on Wednesday.

• Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott made a request to the board to allow the Iowa Department of Human Services-Targeted Case Management division 30 more days on its current lease with the county to finish moving out of its office at 115 N. Second Ave. E.

The department, which is a part of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, is seeking to move to a bigger office within the county. The request was approved as a goodwill measure. Parrott commented that the county doesn’t have urgent use for the office and it would be a good gesture.

• Four fireworks requests made by citizens were approved.

• The board also approved the Young Professionals of Jasper County’s request to use the courthouse lawn on Sept. 5 for a “Thanks with Franks” event.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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