Woman arrested during supervisors meeting Monday
FAIRFIELD — Eileen Dannemann, attending Monday’s Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting, asked why the board had approved a Tax Increment Financing district for Heartland Co-op when not everything about the project was known to the supervisors.
She said the board should not ignore safety issues and truck traffic volume.
Dannemann became argumentative with Supervisor Lee Dimmitt and he asked Supervisor Becky Schmitz, who was chairing Monday’s meeting in Dick Reed’s absence, to ask Dannemann to stop talking.
Dannemann said she and many people were angry.
Schmitz did tell her to stop, and also previously before public comments were allowed, Schmitz had to tell Dannemann to stop talking in the meeting.
Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton, attending the meeting to keep order, addressed Dannemann, telling her to keep order at a public meeting.
She challenged Morton who promised to escort her out of the supervisors’ boardroom. Dannemann asked where they would go.
“To jail,” Morton said.
Dannemann stood, spoke loudly that she might as well go. Morton escorted her out of the meeting with no resistance, though Dannemann did curse.
Today, the sheriff’s office confirmed Dannemann was arrested Monday on disorderly conduct charges.
In a news release provided to supervisors Monday, a local group, Alliance for Healthy Economic Agricultural Development, known as AHEAD-Iowa, asked the board to address long-term safety and traffic concerns with the development of Heartland Co-op’s grain elevator facility.
“Any urban development plan the county develops must create a net gain for all Jefferson County residents,” said Keith DeBoer, vice president of AHEAD-Iowa, in the news release. “Our organization opposes public support for projects designed to benefit a private company such as Heartland Co-op while overlooking associated costs to taxpayers.”
The press release outlined one of the key concerns of the newly formed group is the safety of the railroad underpass on Nutmeg Avenue, a north-south arterial road used now by farmers with traffic likely to increase with the location of the grain elevator at Nutmeg Avenue and Highway 34.
Monday, DeBoer said he was a concerned citizen and had never attended a county board meeting before the Heartland Co-op plans became known.
“I’m impressed with the work the supervisors do each week and the openness you’ve provided,” he said. “Our long-term goal is to address concerns about such projects as Heartland’s and any others going forward.
“The community’s net loss includes road damage and decreased air quality. The elevator will only create six new jobs. We have concerns about safety and we’d like to have input on the development plan.”
DeBoer introduced attorney James Larew, hired by AHEAD-Iowa to represent its concerns.
“This group, with 900 members in the first few weeks, at its core, wants to support farmers and agriculture,” said Larew, addressing the board. “The group would just like it to relocate. It would like to have a part in the development agreement. It would like to negotiate, find some way to have community input. The most efficient way is to have that input at the front end rather than after problems arise.”
Larew said the railroad underpass is a vulnerable point in the project. The structure is 114 years old. The county engineer’s report said an inspection rated it 4 on a scale of 9 as the highest, 1 the lowest.
“Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad has no plans to upgrade that bridge,” said Larew. “Might I suggest the railroad is a silent partner in this project? It definitely wants the elevator. The railroad is sitting on the sidelines. It ought to be invited in.