Sen. Bartz

By Marcie Klomp

Sen. Merlin Bartz spoke in Osage, Riceville, Elma, Chester and Lime Springs on Feb. 10. At Chester, he recalled eating at Borderline Pizza and coming with his Luther roommate, a member of Black Jack, to play at the bar and grill.

He started off by explaining his experience in the Iowa Senate, serving 12 years, and voluntarily taking some time off and running again in 2008. “Little did I know there would be such a big redistricting plan, but I’ll take the cards I’m dealt.”

Eighty-five percent of District 26 is new territory for Bartz, so he has been attending benefits and meetings all over the area to learn the issues and meet new people. He feels he has a strong connection with the farmers in the district since he is a farmer also.

He lives in Grafton, a community of 250. “We have the same issues as Chester. There are four post offices out of seven in Worth County that are closing.”

Jeff Wendel asked, “How do you stand? They’re cutting funding for fire departments. Last year it was cut by a bunch. We need funding to get volunteers into the system.”

Bartz said there was a new training center at NIACC. “That saves money as you don’t have to go to Ames.” Wendel pointed out that Ames brings the training to Chester. He argued, “The state is requiring training but the state is pulling money away from us.”

Bartz suggested charging for services. “I hired the fire department to do a prescribed burn and they charged me for it.” Wendel confirmed the fire department charges $250 to go out the door.

Bartz encouraged Wendel to keep him informed of “anything that doesn’t make sense.”

He added, “I’ve butted heads with the fire marshal. He wanted sprinklers in new construction so if a person added onto their house they would need to put sprinklers in the new and old part. We nixed that. For small towns without water it would have made it so there could be no new construction.”

Mayor Tom Cray noted that the older buildings in town aren’t adequate to get people to move to Chester.

City Clerk Pam Wendel added to have work done on the Community Center was costly for USDA grants.

The legislator suggested looking into the CAT (Community Attraction and Tourism) grant. “I’ll write a recommendation if you want.” He expounded on that in Lime Springs by mentioning Garner, Hampton and Fredericksburg used the grant for their pools.

He also talked about the Worth County Development Authority grant. It holds the gaming license for Diamond Joe’s and gives out grants to Worth County organizations and out of county entities. Fire departments are big receivers of those grants.

Although Jeff Jennings is not an Iowa resident he does own land in the state. His concern regarded out-of-state hunting. “My family lives, eats and breathes hunting and I’m upset that I can’t hunt on my own ground. I’ve talked to people from the DNR who tell me to go to the state legislature who tell me to go to the governor.”

Bartz admitted it was a legislature problem that he has tried to fix in the past. He gave some background. “In regard to any hunting season, the DNR can set limits, fees, etc. But there are two limits set by stattue—out-of-state deer hunting and out-of-state turkey hunting. We tried changing it when I served before.” He and others tried to remove the statute of limitations and let the DNR govern deer and turkey hunting.

He said the big problem was an influential senator from southern Iowa, whose constituents did not want out-of-staters coming in to purchase land, solely for hunting purposes. “It’s a continual fight,” he stated.

Jennings noted, “I pay property tax. It’s your main business (having property). And I (am associated) with Iowa ethanol plants. My family is a member of Pheasants Forever and they are fighting this. It’s wrong.” Bartz concurred. “I agree it’s wrong. There’s been talk of a legal suit.”

“I’ve pursued that,” said Jennings.

The senator concluded, “It’s also bad economic development.

After Chester, Bartz had a working lunch with a few constituents in Lime Springs where he spoke about grants , education reform, property tax reform and the gas tax.

Anyone interested in contacting the Assistant Minority Leader can email him at merlin.bartz@legis.iowa.gov or call his cell phone number at 641-903-9548.

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