Due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Winterset City Council held a telephonic meeting Monday night, which lasted less than 45 minutes.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Madison County native, passed an emergency declaration last week which allows governments to hold their meets via phone.

Monday, all five council members called in to attend the meeting.

Only City Administrator Kelley Brown and Winterset Mayor Phil Macumber were physically present for the meeting. 

No one else was allowed into the Winterset City Hall; council persons had to call in to participate.

Public hearing held by telephone

About seven people, including the council attended the meeting, which included a public hearing to discuss the transfer of several pieces of city-owned property to Stromax, Inc.

The city had purchased the properties and then conducted a round of asbestos removal.

City officials said the city did not want to spend any more money on the properties, and Stromax agreed to tear down the structures, and then construct new buildings. Following the public hearing and limited questions, basically from the press, the council closed the meeting and then voted to convey the properties to Stromax.

The company will be required to construct buildings that can be purchased by low to moderate – or LMI – individuals.

No time frame on razing the homes or building new structures was discussed. The city will issue a warranty deed for the properties with no money changing hands. The buildings will be torn down, and then new structures built at the cost of the construction company.

The dilapidated homes were purchased by the city using the city’s LMI fund. AT one point it had been said that the city had spent as much as $100,000 out of the LMI fund to purchase the properties and make them safe to tear down.

Checking what’s being flushed

Officials from the city sewer department say they are monitoring the inflow into the city’s wastewater treatment plant to ensure that people – during this time of coronavirus concerns – are NOT flushing items through the waste system that aren’t allowed.

Officials say they are not finding any alien items, and that people are still using toilet paper. Officials say nothing other than toilet paper should be flushed into the system.

In other items, city council member Mary Ann Orr expressed concerns that she had heard from constituents about the numbers of people being allowed into grocery stores, and that the 10-person social distancing suggestion clearly isn’t being used.

City officials say there is likely not much the city can do because the stores are private property. A suggestion was made – which came from the public, according to Orr – that store officials might want to monitor the numbers of people shopping the aisles.

Reporter at the Winterset Madisonian. He has also been the managing editor at the Madisonian.