Central Iowa Voters Deciding on New Jail, New Casino

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa —Two referendum votes are being held Tuesday in Dallas and Greene counties.

In Dallas County, voters are deciding a nearly $17 million bond referendum.

Voters will be asked to approve funding a new jail and administrative building. Some critics are upset that the plan would move the offices out of downtown Adel and to the east side of town.

Right now, Dallas County offices are spread through several buildings, some owned by the county and other rented. Some 250 county employees work on or near the town square.

The plan calls for moving several Dallas County offices and the jail to building planned on newly annexed land on the east side of Adel.

Supervisor Mark Hanson said the move is essential as the county's population has nearly doubled.

"When you add 32,000 people, you've got to improve your facilities," said Hanson.

Critics of the plan are worried about losing 125 people downtown and watching four rented downtown buildings become vacant.

"I've grown up and seen the town kind of slowly diminish so I think that something like this could maybe hurt," said resident Allison McNeal.

She said the board didn't do enough to explore options to keep the employees downtown.

"I can see Adel becoming more of a ghost town in a sense," said McNeal.

Long-time city attorney John Reich said not only will downtown suffer, but future businesses won't be able to occupy the new site.

"It was annexed for development purposes to get businesses in here that pay taxes. The county isn't going to pay taxes and it's going to create empty buildings that are currently being used by the county," said Reich.

In Greene County, voters are deciding on a gambling referendum. Wild Rose Entertainment wants to build a new casino north of Jefferson.

If voters approve gambling, the county may apply for a new casino license from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

A similar vote over a proposed casino by Wild Rose in Warren County was voted down by voters earlier this year.

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