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Await contact on Iowa Juvenile Home future–Local officials have not heard from Charles Palmer

Says Delay Due to Possible Court, Legislative Action

April 24, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

On Jan. 30, the Iowa Governor's Office told The Chronicle, and reportedly others, "He (Governor Branstad) has asked Director (Charles) Palmer to meet with community members to gather information about future plans and potential uses for the campus" (of the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo.) The response came to a letter urging Branstad to rethink the Jan. 15 closing of IJH.

Michael R. Bousselot, policy advisor in the Governor's Office wrote in the email answer, "Governor Branstad recognizes the impact this decision (the Jan. 15 closing of IJH) has on the community."

Now, almost three months later, not a single local official can be identified who been contacted by Palmer.

Article Photos

Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo.
-Chronicle file photo

Toledo Mayor Dave Svoboda, the five members of the Toledo City Council, the three members of the Tama County Board of Supervisors and Tama County Economic Development Director Heath Kellogg were all asked last week if they had heard from Palmer. The answer was "no" to a person.

Toledo Council member Travis Mullen wrote in an email, "The state's communication with city leadership regarding matters of the closure and/or future of the former Iowa Juvenile Home facility has been non-existent."

Palmer's office told The Chronicle on Friday the director is waiting the results of litigation in the matter and possible legislative action.

The Chronicle asked in an email "what direction" the IJH?circumstances are headed?

This is the response received from Amy Lorentzen McCoy, public information officer for the Department of Human Services:

"Legislators continue working on proposals regarding IJH, and there is pending litigation. The department will examine these actions before moving forward with plans for the facility.

"Director Palmer has met with former staff and students, and had discussions with local legislators. He welcomes input from the community. "The department's focus is on the best interest of the youth who were served by the Iowa Juvenile Home. This includes monitoring the placement of these youth and providing updates to the Governor, legislators, the Office of the Ombudsman and Disability Rights Iowa."

Meanwhile, there's a reported continued effort in the Iowa Legislature to take some action on the closing. It was reported on the Keep IJH Open Facebook page four Republican votes in the Iowa House of Representatives were needed to enact some legislation on the matter. Bill Skow, Toledo, a founder of the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation and former U.S. Congressman and Toledo High School graduate Dave Nagle and his wife, Deb, were said to have met with legislators on Wednesday, April 16.



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