October 26, 2021

County pursues bids for mural repair

Two bids for the work have already been received

County maintenance has begun the bidding process to repair the damaged ceiling murals inside the courthouse.

Jasper County Maintenance Director Adam Sparks shared how the project is progressing at the Sept. 21 board of supervisors meeting.

Some complications in the bidding process have arisen recently due to the location of the damaged murals. The majority of the damage is centered around the courthouse’s domed roof, which requires specialized equipment to reach.

Renting such equipment is not cheap, with most rental bills totaling around $15,000, Sparks said.

While Sparks has reached out to several different restoration companies in Iowa and the surrounding states, the vast majority of restorationists require their own inspections of the damaged area before entering a bid.

“Unfortunately for us not a lot of companies do this kind of work,” Sparks said.

Maintenance received a copy of the report the first bidder conducted of the damage and has found another bidder who is happy to base their estimate on the information provided in that report.

The estimates given by both bidders are very similar in price and approach.

“Because the two quotes we have already received are very similar in price, I don’t think we need anymore bids,” Sparks explained. “Do we really want to spend $15,000 just to get one or two more bids?”

The county supervisors agreed that continuing the process much longer would be financially irresponsible.

“A third quote is not worth $15,000,” supervisor Brandon Talsma said.

Sparks will now begin receiving bids for the restoration and make a recommendation to the board at a later meeting.

“We don’t have a timeline for the restoration as of yet, but in the next few months we will have official bids from both companies,” Sparks said.

In other news, the supervisors approved maintenance to accept a bid and begin the process of replacing 10 dead ash trees at the Jasper County Jail. The 10 ash trees have been infected by the invasive emerald ash borer and have been slowly dying for the past year.

The supervisors were presented two different bids, one from a company in Newton and another from Pella. Both bids cost the same amount, coming to $4,500.

Sparks recommended the supervisors approve the bid from Pella, due to the company’s use of a tree spade when planting, which preserves more of the transplanted trees’ root structure and improves water retention. While the majority of the board agreed with Sparks, Jasper County Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Cupples did not.

“With jobs like this we prefer to hire local and keep our money local,” Cupples said.

This position was acknowledged as a valid argument, but the rest of the board preferred the bid from Pella.

“The tree spade will make maintenance’s job easier in the long run. Trees won’t need to be watered every couple of days and will be more stable,” Talsma said.

The supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of the Pella-based Fran-way Tree Moving, which provides a tree spade.

“We’ll begin cutting down the dead trees this week and hopefully by early October we will have the new trees planted,” Sparks said.

Finally, the supervisors approved a bid from Newton’s Van Maanen Electric to begin work on the county’s Law Enforcement Lighting Project.

Van Maanen’s bid amounted to $246,236, with work beginning on Dec. 1. Van Maanen estimates that work will hopefully be completed by March, 2022.

In other action, the board of supervisors:

• Unanimously approved a three-year contract with Ziegler power system to maintain two generators at the courthouse and one at the armory building.

• Approved the first reading of a public hearing rezoning the salvage/junkyard from agricultural land to industrial, and then subsequently waived the second and third readings.

• Extended the county farm lease from three years to five years.

• Hired a new cook for elderly nutrition.

Abby Knipfel

Abby "Adler" Knipfel

Journalist at Newton Daily News. Currently covering Jasper County and writing passionate opinion pieces. They/Them