The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County reluctant, but gave support to acquire rescue boat

By Sally Day for the Quill

Henderson County Sheriff Steve Haynes and Chief Deputy Donnie Seitz were on hand for the June 12, 2012 meeting of the Henderson County Board, to request support and monetary donations for a new rescue safety boat.

In light of the tragic boat accident, which occurred last month, Sheriff Haynes and Chief Deputy Seitz, called upon the board to understand the importance of this boat and the good it could do. Four lives were lost in the boating accident, which occurred just north of Burlington, Iowa on the Mississippi River.

Chief Deputy Seitz told the board the Sheriff's Department had received three bids - from Oquawka Boats, Dave's Marina and Archer Marina. The Sheriff's Department is considering the bid from Oquawka Boats; a "demo" boat built a few years ago. Seitz said anything built by Oquawka Boats would outlast a lifetime. "If we were to build this one new, it would cost at least $30,000."

Board member Curt Eisenmayer asked what Hancock County, Keokuk, etc. have done. He made note more than once, "They (The Sheriff's Department) will need more money and more personnel as time goes on."

"Each year, calls have been increasing," stated Chief Deputy Seitz. "There are more people on the water, using the river for recreation. Boat sales have doubled. We don't need another tragedy," he added. "This county has a population of 8,000, which increases in the summer months, mostly due to the river."

Sheriff Haynes noted, "People who come here on the weekends spend money in the county. Before they get to the river they stop and get gas, food, etc." He continued, "We are asking all townships and villages in the county for the same help."

"About a year ago," Sheriff Haynes said, "we got a call at about three in the morning. It was from a woman whose husband had not returned home from fishing on the river." The Sheriff's Department was not able to start the old rescue boat, wasting precious time before they could locate someone to check on the man. "When a loved one is lost, we want a way to help," Sheriff Haynes stated.

"We want to form a water rescue team," explained Sheriff Haynes. "If it takes two years or more, we are going ahead with or without the county board. We have overwhelming support from Oquawka and Gladstone."

Oquawka Township has generously agreed to give $2,000 and Gulfport Village to give $1,000.

"The Gladstone/Gulfport Fire Departments want to be a part of this. They are willing to be volunteers. Each fire department wants to be a part of this," said Chief Deputy Seitz.

He added, "There are no grant monies available right now. We even went to the State Surplus organization. There is nothing available right now.

"I don't think the cost is going to be as much as Curt thinks it is. This boat is something that is needed, and we hope never to use."

The county board passed a motion to give the Sheriff's Department their support and any profits from a squad they had agreed to sell earlier in the meeting. The board agreed the squad car was not in very good shape.

In unrelated business, the board appointed Jim Zielstra as Veteran's Assistance Administrator. Zielstra was present and spoke about his 30 years in the military.

The board also gave an easement to Dollar General. They will construct a drive on property which has been vacant and belonged to no one.

In matters concerning an ambulance purchase for Biggsville Service, the Ambulance Committee will gather all the facts.

Biggsville is looking for a new ambulance, as their annual calls are increasing.

In other business, the board: