MUSCATINE, Iowa — It’s going to cost an estimated $750,000-$850,000 to take advantage of geothermal energy to heat and cool the older portion of the county jail, at 400 Walnut St.

Engineer Vic Amoroso of A&J Associates of North Liberty, whose company designed the new geothermal system for the older part of the jail, told the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors Monday evening during its regular meeting that bids will be opened on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

It was the board’s second meeting of the day, following a 3.5-hour budget session earlier.

Supervisors voted 5-0 on a resolution approving the work and the bid-opening date.

The work is needed on the older portion of the jail, constructed in 1995, to improve the existing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

“You have difficulty keeping it running in the summer,” Amoroso said.

Because it’s energy efficient, the new system is expected to save money in the long run. Sheriff Dave White told the board last week that’s certainly been the case in the newer portion of the jail.

The project is similar, Amoroso said, to one he worked on a few years ago at the city of Muscatine’s Public Safety Building, 312 E. Fifth St.

He said he’s putting off the bid process on another HVAC improvement project — this one at the DHS building, 3210 Harmony Lane — for a couple of weeks in order to give contractors the opportunity to bid on both projects, or one or the other.

“If we bid them together, some contractors would have to choose,” he said. With this staggered schedule, he said, unsuccessful contractors the first go-round “can give it a good run the second time.”

The board later set a

public hearing for the DHS  project for 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11.

Other business

n The board unanimously reappointed three people to county boards: Architect and engineer Mark Hawthorne to the Muscatine County Building Board of Appeals, Dr. Rebecca Mueller of Muscatine to the Muscatine County Board of Health, and Ana Gretsinger of Muscatine to the Community Action of Eastern Iowa board of directors.

n Supervisors heard from County Auditor Leslie Soule that Larry Beik of Nichols (District 2), Robert Feldmann of Fruitland (District 5) and Richard Lovetinsky of West Liberty (District 9) all won three-year terms on drainage districts within the county. Each man received all three votes cast.

n Supervisors set a date for a public hearing for 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, on the Courthouse landscape and accessibility project.

n By a 5-0 count, the board agreed to changes in the county’s policy on the acquisition of unknown owner parcels.

As Administrative Services Director Nancy Schreiber explained, in recent years the Cedar River has changed course in several places, altering small parcels of land in the process.

The county has an interest in getting those parcels on the tax rolls, so county officials allow adjoining property owners to acquire the newly created parcels, of which there are now 40 or 50 in the county, she said.

The problem is that potential buyers don’t necessarily want to pay for a survey of the property in question if there’s a chance that supervisors might deny them the purchase for some reason.

Under the revised policy, the board can rule on the acquisition, granting it to the adjoining property owner contingent upon a follow-up survey being completed.

Next up: The budget

The board meets this morning at 9 o’clock at the county administration building, 414 E. Third St., to decide on outside agency allocations.