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UDMO now covers 17 counties for weatherization

Director Jamie Whitney gives annual report to supervisors

November 29, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The Emmet County supervisors heard from Upper Des Moines Opportunity executive director Jamie Whitney at their regular Tuesday morning meeting. Whitney said one significant development over the past year is UDMO's assumption of five additional counties for the weatherization program. The counties are to the east of Emmet County: Kossuth, Franklin, Cerro Gordo, Worth, Hancock and Winnebago counties. Whitney said the program spends on average $10,000 per owner-occupied home of a low-income resident. Those with an income that is 200 percent of poverty level qualify.

Whitney also gave an update on the Roosevelt Building. Those who attended Estherville Lincoln Central High School's fall play the first weekend of this month experienced the chill resulting from the boiler room damage. Whitney said after a concrete slab fell on the roof of the boiler room during the demolition of the south building on Roosevelt campus, UDMO fixed and stabilized the roof and walls of that section.

Whitney said this winter or early spring will have crews preparing for work on the main building's roof, the sprinkler system, and classroom renovations. Talk has begun on use of the top floor of the main building for home-based worker and other offices, but action on those ideas will be years down the road due to making access to the top of the building accessible.

UDMO has received $143,000 in a grant to provide emergency housing, including emergency rent payments and utilities for those who don't qualify for LIHEAP (low income heating and energy assistance program) or other programs.

For this fiscal year, UDMO assisted 1,469 individuals in 601 Emmet County households at a cost of $324,340.50, or an average of $220 per individual and $539 per household.

Whitney said UDMO had also reached out to Estherville city administrator Penny Clayton regarding the further childcare shortfall that would result from the closing of A Child's World daycare. UDMO leases two classrooms in the building, the old McKinley School, where A Child's World is located. Chelsey Smith purchased the building and plans to open a daycare there. In addition, a daycare is set to open in a former dentist's office building across from the Roosevelt building, Whitney said. UDMO?is requesting just over $16,000 from Emmet County this year.

In other business, the supervisors heard from county engineer Walter Davis-Oeth that pup trailers purchased from J-Kraft are wholly unsatisfactory. The engineers' office sent a video to the company to show the issue. Davis-Oeth is waiting to hear from J-Kraft about a proposal for refund, retrofit or other solution. The issue stems from the pups spreading gravel on roads with the boxes lifted. In this position, the tongues snap and bend.

The supervisors also approved Resolution 19-16: Resolution to Transition CSS to One Employer.

County Social Services mental health and disability services region, of which Emmet County is part, has decided to consolidate to one employer as of January 1, 2020. The resolution directs Emmet County to transfer all furniture, equipment and office supplies currently in designated CSS offices or for CSS staff use to CSS, and will transfer a 2013 Dodge Caravan to County Social Services, both on January 1, 2020.

The supervisors also issued a fireworks permit to Arlen Tiervold of rural Estherville for the dates Nov. 27-30, and reviewed Family Farm Credit applications presented from the Auditor's and Assessor's offices.



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