The Jasper County Supervisors Monday approved the sale of their former county care facility for the use as a new “I-Green” energy training center. Three Iowa Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union locals, Alliant Energy, Midwest Energy, the Rural Electric Cooperatives, and the Jasper County Conservation Board have formed a corporation to buy the building.

Tom Henderson, the attorney for the Newton I-B-E-W Local 55, says the plan is to train workers to meet the needs for increased green energy use. He says they’ll send their electrical workers to the center to learn state-of-the-art electrical safety and future energy use. Henderson says the Local 55 will pay the county $40,000 up front and make payments each of the next four years for a total of $200,000.

Once that payment is complete, the county will forgive $350,000 of the $550,000 purchase price. Henderson says the county home poses some environmental problems for the county with asbestos and other environmental issues. He says it could cost the county $350,000 to tear the building down, while his group plans to rehabilitate the building so it doesn’t have to be torn down.

Henderson says it’s estimated some 900 people will be trained at the facility in its first two years. He says there will also be an educational component to the facility. Henderson says there will be a museum set up where Jasper County school children can come and learn about green energy and also energy safety. And there will be an internet link where anyone can find out about green energy around the state.

Henderson says the center will be a boost to the Jasper County economy. He says people will be coming in from all over the state for training and will stay in local hotels and use local resources. The total “I-Green” project is estimated to cost 12 million dollars. Some training is expected to begin at the facility immediately, while the rehabilitation of the site is expected to take up to two years to complete.

By Randy Van, KCOB, Newton