- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DONNELLSON, Iowa (AP) - Residents of a southeast Iowa county have aired competing interests and ideas surrounding their unusual distinction of having two county seats.

Leaders and residents of Lee County gathered Tuesday night to talk about an old rivalry between Keokuk and Fort Madison, cities about 15 miles apart. Since 1845, each community has tried to claim the county seat from the other, the Burlington Hawk Eye reported (https://bit.ly/OUfLrb ).

Lee County supervisors consolidated some officers three years ago, a move that has saved the county some money. The auditor and treasurer’s offices were placed in Fort Madison, and the recorder and assessor’s offices were put in Keokuk. Officials meet weekly in Montrose, which is a halfway point.

At the meeting Tuesday, officials and residents weighed the cost vs. convenience of having the offices available in different cities. Some wanted services to be available again in both cities.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion promised action if the county board didn’t return all offices to both county seats.

“I don’t see a rivalry between Fort Madison and Keokuk, but from the Keokuk stand point, I’m asking the board of supervisors to reissue all services back in Fort Madison and Keokuk or I will resort to some form of action,” he said.

Supervisors Matt Pflug and Gary Folluo agreed county services should be available in both cities, but board chairman Ernie Schiller said having two county seats tears the county apart.

“I don’t understand why we can’t have one Lee County and one Lee County seat. I’ve always been in favor of one Lee County,” he said. “I would like us to work as one.”

Judy Wilson of Argyle, suggested moving county offices out of both cities and relocating them along U.S. Highway 61, “and stop this rivalry from happening.” Residents from other areas of the county suggested a similar move outside of Keokuk and Fort Madison.

The meeting Tuesday had no official agenda, so the board supervisors could not make any formal decisions.


Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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