Ag center, farmland preservation topic of May 6 meeting

Published 6:03 pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

Commissioners will meet at the Mill Spring Agricultural and Community Development Center Monday, May 6 for a work session to discuss the future of agricultural economic development, farmland preservation and the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Ag center at 7 p.m. in place of the regular Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting typically held in Columbus.

Commissioner Ted Owens said the board felt like it was time for the three boards and the commission to sit down with the goal of moving forward with the agriculture and economic development director position.

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“I think it’s particularly important as interconnected as the three boards are now, especially with the ag center, that they all sit down and discuss things,’ Owens said.

Jim Edwards, executive director of Isothermal Planning and Development, will moderate the work session, which has been opened to the public. Commissioners during their April 22 meeting also approved, at the request of commissioner Ray Gasperson, making available a period during the work session for public comment.

The agenda includes several items focused on the mission and funding structure of the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District, plans for the Farmland Preservation Board and the future of agricultural economic development.

“What I hope to see out of this meeting Monday is a consensus to move forward with advertising for this position,” Gasperson said. “It would show county government is working to promote agriculture in Polk County, which fits perfectly with our comprehensive plan.”

During the commission’s last meeting commissioners heard from outgoing agricultural economic development director Lynn Sprague about what has been accomplished in the last five years.

Sprague leaves his position May 31.

Sprague said the farmland preservation board was created in 2002. Through that board a farmland protection plan was written, which included a desire to hire an Ag economic development director, along with a job description for that position.

He said that move served as the catalyst for what has happened since.