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Sodders: No Iowa Juvenile Home reopening

January 29, 2015
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Even with a favorable Iowa Supreme Court decision, State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) said he does not envision the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo to reopen in its previous role.

The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 24, to hear arguments in an appeal by Gov. Terry Branstad on a Polk County District Court ruling which found the closing unconstitutional and had ordered it reopened.

Sodders made his comments in response to a question posed at a Listening Post he hosted at the Tama Public Library on Friday, Jan. 23. The Senator along with fellow Democrat Senator Jack Hatch, of Des Moines, State Rep. Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) and Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers Iowa Council sued the Governor and Charles Palmer, director of the Iowa Department of Human Services after they closed the Juvenile Home - Training School on Jan. 15 of last year.

Article Photos

State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) gestures during a Listening Post he hosted at the Tama Public Library on Friday, Jan. 23. Topics ranging from the future of the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls campus in Toledo to Iowa roadways and cannabis oil were covered.
Chronicle/John Speer

They contended the Iowa Legislature had funded the operation for the fiscal year 2013-14 and the action closing it was illegal. A Polk County Judge then found in their favor and ordered it reopened.

The matter was then appealed.

Sodders also said he is continuing to seek information on the whereabouts and cost of care of the girls who had been at Toledo.

"I could put another bill together like i did last time to reopen the facility, but if the House is never going to take the bill up and the Governor is never going to sign it, you've got to think of something else," Sodders said.

He called for a "community forum" to gain input on what local residents want done with the property if the State of Iowa has no other p[lans.

"The Governor, as chief executive, could sell it," Sodders said.

It was noted State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Garwin) has been working on a possible plan to sell the campus for conversion to a Baptist College aimed at Burmese refugee students.

The campus underwent more than $20 in capital improvements including construction of a new education-security-health services building and installation of a geo-thermal heating system in recent years.




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