The Benton County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday made the decision to keep all county facilities and campgrounds closed until further notice and plan to revisit this topic in the coming weeks.
“With Benton County being an island among other counties that are closed off by the state, are we going to be inviting people from those counties into our campgrounds?” Rick Primmer, County Supervisor said. “I just get a feeling we will be bombarded from counties, not just our residents.”
A recommendation by Benton Public Health suggested the Board of Supervisors continue to keep the courthouse and county campgrounds closed to the public despite Gov. Kim Reynolds allowing campgrounds to open under certain restrictions, including bathrooms to be closed and shelters unavailable. Ron Tippett, Benton County Sheriff, noted there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in any county facility. County employees report to work in county facilities and deadlines for vehicle renewals normally done in the courthouse have been extended.
“We should just basically hold steady for the time being,” Tippett said. “We don’t have it in the building. We should keep it that way.”
According to Coronavirus.org, a state-run website with information regarding COVID-19, Benton County has reported 35 overall cases of the virus and 20 have recovered. However, surrounding counties have reported far higher numbers of high cases, including Blackhawk County (1,521) Linn (849) and Tama (341).
“In a worst case scenario, if someone gets sick because we opened up and they pass away, that does not look good,” Gary Bierschenk, County Supervisor said. “I feel keeping the campgrounds closed for now is a no-brainer.”
The Board approved that Benton County Conservation move forward with seasonal hirings and screenings. Primmer asked that campgrounds be placed on the agenda next week and the decision be considered again as more information becomes available. Memorial Day is set for May 25 and the campgrounds are noted to be a popular destination over the holiday weekend.
This is a developing story and Vinton Newspapers will have updates as they are made available. Board of Supervisor meetings are currently held virtually through a video call app, Zoom, on Tuesdays beginning at 9:00 a.m. A link to the meeting is available on the Benton County website.