Supervisors deliberate over use of opioid settlement monies

By Rick Morain
Jefferson Herald

The Greene County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved authorization of additional documents on opioid settlement monies that will be coming to the county.
The opioid settlement funds amount to several thousand dollars. They must be used for specific purposes related to opioid abuse and treatment. The supervisors are considering several ways to use Greene County’s share of the settlement money. Among others, the partnering organizations could include a new regional drug court, New Opportunities, and Greene County Public Health.
Some corporations have already been providing funds under settlement agreements. The new settlements for which the supervisors agreed to the documents are with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Allergan Finance LLC, Walgreen Co. Walmart Inc., CVS Health Corporation, and CVS Pharmacy Inc. As part of the settlements, the county agrees not to sue the companies in the future.

In other action, the board approved two hirings in the sheriff’s office:
Kristal Morales as a full-time jailer at an annual salary of $37,500 effective April 1, with an increase of $1,000 after certification is completed, and the hiring of current part-time dispatcher Brandon Gustoff as a full-time dispatcher at an annual salary of $37,264, also effective April 1.

County attorney Thomas Laehn reported that his office currently has 78 criminal cases pending, with a trial scheduled for April 4 and two more trials scheduled in May. He also addresses the state government reorganization bill that the Iowa Legislature has adopted. The legislation grants the state attorney general the power to intervene in local cases, effectively making county attorneys assistant attorneys general, Laehn said. He expressed his concern with the bill, stating that it undermines local control of the criminal justice system, and risks politicizing the system by allowing the attorney general to selectively intervene in cases based on political considerations.

The supervisors, acting in their capacity as drainage trustees for several drainage districts in the county, approved an agreement with Snyder & Associates for professional services for the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions carbon pipeline, which would run through the northeast part of Greene County if it receives state approval. Snyder & Associates would provide inspection services for the drainage districts. The agreement would be in effect if the state approves the pipeline project.
County zoning director Chuck Wenthold reported that the Iowa Utilities Board has set five dates for public comment hearings in five separate locations to allow affected landowners to speak on the project, as well as members of the public. The evidentiary hearing for the project will follow the public comment hearings; it will take place from Oct. 23 through Dec. 21.
The board approved payment of $37,504 to Macke Motors Inc. to purchase a 2023 Chevy Tahoe for the sheriff’s office.
County Engineer Wade Weiss discussed the county’s roads for the route over which this July’s RAGBRAI bicycle ride will travel. He also said that the county secondary roads five-year program for construction and the county roads budget for fiscal year 2023-24 are scheduled for approval at the next board meeting on March 27.

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