February 27, 2024

Courthouse and other county offices likely to close for RAGBRAI

Supervisors see no way for residents to reasonably access service buildings

Attendees of RAGBRAI roam the streets of downtown Newton in 2018. The city is proposing a special event policy which would require applications to be filled out and specific guidelines to be met.

It is likely the Jasper County Courthouse will be closed to the public when RAGBRAI cyclists ride through town on July 27.

Both the county treasurer and the county attorney previously told the board of supervisors that they would close their offices, too. Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma told his fellow supervisors during a June 13 work session that many of the RAGBRAI festivities would be in close proximity to county buildings.

Since the cyclists probably won’t need driver’s license or motor vehicle services or request a fishing license at the recorder’s office or take part in a deposition for the county attorney, Talsma suggested the board close the county courthouse and give all affected employees a paid day off.

“It’s getting a lot more spread out and I think it’s going to be a lot harder for us. I know originally I was not in favor of shutting the county down or offices down for the day,” he said. “Unfortunately, with the way it’s starting to lay out I think we, in my opinion, need to (close) at least the courthouse and administration building.”

Doug Cupples and Denny Stevenson reluctantly agreed. Plus, Stevenson noted that with the street closures it is going to be difficult for residents to access county service buildings, even with portions of First Avenue open near the courthouse.

With the courthouse and other county offices likely to close, Talsma said he is open to allowing the RAGBRAI committee to use the parking lot of the administration building to house vendor tents or food trucks or whatever other use they could think of for the day.

Colfax, Newton and Kellogg are among the six pass thru towns on Day 5 of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, with the others being Altoona, Mitchellville and Grinnell. Newton will serve as a meeting town for the 82-mile stretch on July 27.

As a meeting town, Newton will host support vehicles and serve as the halfway point between Des Moines to Tama-Toledo where riders can take a break. Which means there will be an abundance of food and entertainment options, in addition to services that can repair bicycles if need be.

However, it will not be like an overnight stay, which is what occurred in Newton in 2018. The first set of riders could come in anywhere between 8 and 10 a.m. but they will be off on their bikes around 2 p.m. or so. By 3 p.m., organizers will have shut down all sales and entertainment.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.