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      Two departments in Lee County, Iowa could move into one building

      For the past two and a half years, there's been an ongoing discussion as to whether or not the Lee County H ealth D epartment and the Lee County C onservation B oard should be under the same roof.

      The idea comes as both agencies look at better serving the people of Lee County.

      Currently, the only location for the health department in Lee County is in Fort Madison and that means anyone in the southern part of the county must make the drive to Fort Madison to get health department issued permits and possibly enroll in classes offered by the health department.

      As for the Conservation Board, they're squeezed into an old ranch style house and about half of their nature displays are stored in a cargo trailer at their facility along U.S. 61 at Heron Bend.

      But n ow, it looks like that plan is moving ahead and the directors of both agencies are talking with county residents to present their plan and gauge support for the proposal.

      " What we're looking at is the opportunity to improve services with both departments. The conservation and the health department. We've both been in locations that were or in buildings at any rate kind of a second thought or an after thought," said Tom Buckley. Buckely is the director of the Lee County Conservation Board.

      Right now, Buckley and Lee County Health Department administrator, Julie Schilling, are taking the proposal to county residents to let them hear what could be expected a couple of years from now. So far, they say many people like the idea of having a centralized location. And by moving the health department, they would be able to reach more people by locating half way between the counties two major cities.

      " Working with the conservation department and at the new site here at Heron Bend, we feel we would be more centrally located to all the people in Lee County. So it's not quite halfway, but time wise it's probably more centrally located and it's located right along the highway," Schilling said.

      The foundations of both the health department and the conservation board are in the early stages of raising money for the project. Buckely says construction estimates for the new building and site development comes in just under four million dollars. And they say they don't expect any ground to be broken on this for at least two years.