Hamilton County voters had a chance to hear the views and plans of several county candidates on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election. The candidates were part of the League of Women Voters candidates forum held Thursday at Webster City City Hall.
The only contested race in the county is for the two seats on the Van Diest Medical Center board of trustees. Incumbent candidate Carroll Ose, Blairsburg and newcomer Myra Maxon were in attendance at the forum. The third candidate, incumbent candidate George Heller, declined the invitation to take part in the forum.
Maxon, who grew up in Fort Dodge, said Webster City became her home when she took a teaching position at Iowa Central Community College."It is a very nurturing, fulfilling community. It's citizens are extremely generous with their time," she said. "And they are generous with their money."
She also said she felt the community was very forward thinking, citing the passage of the bond issue for the fire station, the support for the new gym at the high school and the new hospital.
"I'm actively involved in volunteering, and I seek a seat on the board of trustees of the Van Diest Medical Center," she said.
Maxon said she had heard concerns from various people who said their physicians can't practice at VDMC.
"I told them, 'whoa, that's the wrong four-letter word. It isn't can't - rather the word is won't,'" she said. "That's what I would like to help address. I would like to be part of the VDMC board of trustees to help solve that problem."
Maxon said she would like to see all medical professionals in the community represented at the hospital.
"I want to be a part of that team and encourage everybody to work together so that our quality staff can be giving quality care in a quality facility," she said.
Ose has served six years on the board of trustees and currently serves as the chairman of the board.
"In six years, our focus at the hospital has changed dramatically. The first two years, it was all small things. Then we went into the middle two years when we received the generous donation from the Van Diests and were able to build a new facility with the cooperation of the supervisors and our county. Funding became available and everything came together," he said.
Now, Ose said, the board is back to the day-to-day operations of the hospital.
"We're told as trustees that we are to deal with vision and mission, not operations," he said. "But continually we get thrown into the operation portion of it. We kind of walk a fine line."
In reference to Maxon's comments about local physicians, the incumbent said the hospital has an open medical staff, meaning that any physician can apply for privileges.
"All they have to do is apply," he said.
Ose concluded by saying he didn't feel like he was opposing his fellow candidates, rather that all three were stepping up to serve the county.
Four county office holders are seeking re-election.Hamilton County Sheriff Denny Hagenson, Auditor Kim Schaa and Supervisors Wes Sweedler and Doug Bailey are all running unopposed for their current offices.
Hagenson talked about two programs in his office. Seniors and Lawmen Together, or SALT, is
Hagenson said his department is working with the Iowa State Extension office in Webster City are are now helping to support and promote the program.
"So, our SALT meetings will continue and we're really happy to have them (Extension office) on board to promote it," he said.
The sheriff also discussed his office's participation in Hamilton County Crime Stoppers. Hagenson said the program, through the Most Wanted posters, has brought about the arrest of about 10 individuals.
"If there are people that we have warrants for or are looking for, we put them on a Most Wanted poster and offer a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction," he said.
Hagenson said he hoped that everyone would take the time to vote.
"But I'm sure anybody who has taken time to come out tonight, will do just that," he said.
Schaa, Kamrar, said she had worked 34 years in the county auditor's office, working for three different auditors. She was first elected to the office in 2000.
"I thoroughly have enjoyed my time with the auditor's office and would like to ask for your support to continue that service. I would ask that everyone go out and vote on Nov. 6."
She reminded voters that her office will be open for early voting on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sweedler, Williams, is the District 2 supervisor. He told those present that he would welcome the chance to talk with any local residents, but didn't wish assume which topics the audience would like to hear.
"I guess for me to talk at you, I'm assuming I know better than you what topics interest you," he said.
"I'd like to thank Doug (Bailey) and David Young of Stanhope, my fellow supervisors," he said. I think we have a good team and have met the challenges that are in front of us."
Bailey represents Webster City on the board of supervisors. He said one of the biggest challenges facing the county in the future is the mental health redesign by the state.
"The successful implementation of this will be something that's vitally important to some folks, but should be very important to all, especially how the regions are formed and how the county's are able to participate to make it successful," he said.
He encouraged voters to pay close attention to how the changes are rolled out.
Hotel/Motel Tax renewal
Catherine Bergman, executive director of Hamilton County S.E.E.D., spoke to the audience about the renewal of the hotel/motel tax in the unincorporated areas of the the county. The tax is set to expire at the end of 2012. Bergman said the tax is paid by travelers who stay in the two motels near Williams or the Briggs Woods Park sleeping cabins.
Revenue from the 5 percent sales tax helps market Hamilton County and also provides grants to various organizations throughout the county to help with site improvements and signage for attractions, Bergman told the audience.
She said that since the marketing effort was begun, requests for more information about Hamilton County are now upwards of 1,000 per year - a 500 percent increase. According to Bergman, about half of those requesting information then visit Hamilton County.
The measure is on the ballot for Nov. 6, but only those living in the unincorporated areas of the county will vote on the matter.