Louisa County Supervisors talk fiber optics options for county libraries

WAPELLO —The annual Louisa County libraries update provided to the Louisa County Board of Supervisors during the board’s regular weekly meeting on Tuesday, provided the supervisors with a good opportunity to discuss with the library directors the efforts to provide each facility with fiber optics service.

Supervisor chair Brad Quigley told library directors Llewann Bryant, Keck Memorial Library, Wapello; Mandy Grimm, Columbus Junction Public Library, Columbus Junction; and Amie Herrick, Mellinger Memorial Library, Morning Sun, that extending fiber optics was a key development for the county. Letts Public Library Director Barb Thompson did not attend the meeting.

Quigley told the directors that Louisa Communications, Morning Sun, had provided the board with cost estimates to extend a fiber optics cable to each of the facilities currently without the service.

Keck Memorial Library’s cost of $5,950 was the lowest, while the Letts Public Library price of $127,243 came in the highest because it would involve extending the cable from the Louisa-Muscatine School campus over three milesaway.

Quigley said the $38,411 expense for the Columbus Junction Public Library was also relatively high because it involved boring under the Iowa Highway 92 viaduct to reach the library.

According to officials, Mellinger Memorial Library is already served by a fiber optics cable.

Quigley said the supervisors were interested in extending fiber optics to the libraries to ensure the facilities were in a good position for future development and use of internet services in county communities and rural areas.

“We have to think outside the box,” he said, suggesting the cable expansion might be one way to reverse a population loss in the county.

Supervisor Chris Ball indicated he agreed and saw Louisa County’s allocation of America Rescue Plan (ARP) funds as a possible funding source for at least the Wapello and Columbus Junction libraries.

“We may have to look at a Plan B for Letts,” he said.

Louisa Communications representative Mike Karagin said the cost estimates would hold until next year. That would appear to fit into the supervisors’ unofficial implementation schedule, with Ball indicating nothing would likely be started until 2023.

In other discussion with the library directors, Grimm distributed a flyer showing the combined activities and services provided by the county’s four libraries.

In other action of the supervisors, the board tabled a discussion and possible action on the reappointment of John (Tim) Verink and medical director Jacinta Wangui to the Louisa County Board of Health (BOH) because current BOH member and supervisor Randy Griffin was unable to attend the meeting. The board also approved final paperwork on the Wapello Highway 99 bridge project.

In final action, a Decorah, Iowa firm was the apparent low bidder for a project that will upgrade a portion of 160th Street around Grandview to improve its use as a bypass.

In a bid opening conducted during the meeting, JB Holland submitted a $341,151 bid, the lowest of eight total bids submitted for the project. County engineer Adam Shutt, who conducted the opening, said he would review all the bids to ensure they were correct before confirming the Holland bid was the lowest. Shutt said his estimate for the work had been around $468,000.

Other bids submitted included: Triple D Construction, Wilton, $407,342; PCI, Reinback, $387,496; Heuer Construction, Muscatine, $417,014; DeLong Construction, Washington, $353,152; Fye Construction, Sperry, $363,838; Miller Trucking, Silvis, IL., $664,582; and Boomerang Construction, Anamosa, $397,582.

Construction will hopefully begin next spring, Shutt said following the bid opening.

This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Louisa County exploring fiber optics options for county libraries