Sups asked to consider a Freedom Rock

Two Webster City residents approached the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Tuesday with a request that the county support the idea of bringing a Freedom Rock to Webster City.

For the past 15 years or so, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen kneels, has created a painted Memorial Day tribute on a boulder north of Greenfield. Each year, he changes the painting to depict a different story.

Now the artist is interested in bringing a Freedom Rock to each of the state’s 99 counties, creating the Freedom Rock Tour in Iowa.

Becky Kepler and Connie Evans told the board they would like to see Hamilton County’s Freedom Rock established near the courthouse.

“It starts out with $1,000 down payment, then $5,000 for the entire concept and we buy our own rock,” said Kepler. She added that there would likely be some maintenance costs involved.

“What better place to have a Freedom Rock than right here at the courthouse where everybody comes to do business,” Kepler said.

Since Red Bull Division Drive was built, the supervisors have been trying to get a piece of military artillery related to the Red Bull Division that could be used as a memorial. Kepler said the rock could be part of that display as well. She suggested that veterans groups could get involved to help fundraise for the associated costs of a memorial display.

“Maybe this something could tie in the artillery piece, the rock and some pavers,” Kepler said. “We could really have a first class display. It’s close to the Interstate and it would be a great draw.”

“It would be a memorial more on the county level, rather than just a Webster City memorial,” said Evans.

Chairman Doug Bailey said his one concern would be maintaining the rock in its original condition. Supervisor Wes Sweedler said he had learned that the artist recommends sealing the rock and even covering it to protect the painting from the elements. He said there was nothing in the agreement with the artist that would provide for maintenance.

“We would be responsible for maintaining it ourselves,” he said. “They really don’t know how long the paint will last because they repaint the one every year. The sealer will help, I’m sure.”

Bailey said part of the attraction of the original Freedom Rock was the anticipation for the new painting each Memorial Day.

“I think there would be support from veterans groups but we’re a little unsure how quickly to go at this,” said Supervisor David Young.

No action was taken on the request.

Personnel policy

A revamped personnel policy was presented by the board, but representatives of the employee relations committee voiced some concerns about the proposed revisions.

Bailey said the policy is reviewed every year, but changes are not always made.

“But it has grown and grown and a few years ago we realized we needed to streamline and clarify some of it,” he said. He added that the document had been reviewed by the county’s labor negotiator.

“We had a number of changes, revisions and additions. We had a department head meeting on about May 6 and we went through the changes with them,” he said.

Bailey said the new policy needs to be posted for 10 days before it goes into effect.

Kim Anderson, county recorder and employee relations committee member, said she had concerns about a few sections of the policy, specifically, who the policy covers and also a passage about searches of county offices. She also questioned why her committee had not had a chance to review the current version of the policy proposal.

Anderson said she wasn’t comfortable with the portion of the policy relating to searches of desks and offices. She questioned how a search could be allowed without the office holder present. Additionally, she asked how one elected official would have the authority to conduct the search of another elected official’s office. Anderson asked the supervisors to reference code sections pertaining to the matter.

The supervisors agreed to visit with the county attorney and a representative at the Iowa State Association of Counties for clarification.