Area high school students attend 67th Tama County Government Day

Joint Legion, Auxiliary program unique to Tama County

Tama County Auditor Laura Kopsa, center, speaks at the Reinig Center in Toledo last week Wednesday as part of 2024 Tama County Government Day. More than 130 students from several area school districts attended this year’s Government Day sponsored by members of the American Legion and Legion Auxiliary. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

TOLEDO – Last Wednesday, Tama County’s American Legion posts and Auxiliary units hosted the 67th Tama County Government Day, welcoming high school juniors and seniors from area school districts to Toledo as part of an annual effort to teach students the importance of local, county government.

The field experience is unique to Tama County – no other Legions in the state of Iowa continue to offer such an opportunity.

According to Gladbrook Legion Auxiliary member Trudi Scott, about 130 students from four different school districts were in attendance on Wednesday including students from Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Green Mountain-Garwin, North Tama County, and South Tama County.

The day began bright and early at Toledo’s Reinig Center where students registered, voted on a variety of issues, and were welcomed to the event by Legion and Auxiliary members.

Students then made their way to downtown Toledo where groups toured the Tama County Courthouse, the Tama County Jail, and the Tama County Administration Building. County officials scheduled to take part in the visits included all three supervisors – Curt Hilmer, Bill Faircloth, and Dan Anderson – Assessor Wesley Ray, Attorney Brent Heeren, Auditor Laura Kopsa, Clerk of Court Connie Donovan, Conservation Director Curtis Behrens, Engineer Ben Daleske, Public Health Executive Director Shannon Zoffka, Recorder Amelia Kemper, Sanitarian Chris Behrens, Sheriff Dennis Kucera, Treasurer Amanda Kriegel, Veterans Affairs Director Elizabeth Ledvina, and (outgoing) Zoning Administrator Taveis Stevens.

American Legion members participate in a flag folding ceremony at Toledo’s Reinig Center on Wednesday, April 10, as part of this year's Tama County Government Day while students from several local high schools observe. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Following lunch which was served back at the Reinig Center and included beefburgers made with beef provided by the Tama County Cattlemen’s Association, Legion members performed a flag folding demonstration after which both Auditor Laura Kopsa and Recorder Amelia Kemper spoke about their respective offices as part of a panel discussion.

During her presentation, Kopsa – who is not seeking reelection this November and will be retiring in January 2025 – highlighted the many different responsibilities her office is charged with including overseeing the county’s budget.

In the current fiscal year, Kopsa said her office predicts Tama County will spend $32,879,000.00 including a predicted payroll of $7,662,580.00 for the 198 individuals employed by the county (full time, part time, and seasonal).

Kopsa said her office also manages the Census results. During the most recent U.S. Census which took place in 2020, Tama County’s population was 17,135.

“So for a county that’s really large in land and roads, we really don’t have a huge population,” Kopsa told the students.

Tama County’s cities are called home by 10,647 people, she said, while rural residents number 5,344, and the Meskwaki Nation has 1,144 people.

Voter registration is also handled by the auditor’s office. Teaching students the importance of voting is a key part of the annual Government Day experience.

Kopsa told the students they will be eligible to register to vote as soon as they reach 17-and-a-half years of age but they cannot exercise the right to vote in a general election until age 18.

There are 11,369 registered voters currently in Tama County, Kopsa shared, split into roughly three groups including 2,901 Democrats; 3,997 Republicans; and 4,399 no party or other. The county also has 54 registered Libertarians.

Kopsa told the high schoolers – many of whom will have the opportunity to vote for the very first time this June in the primary election – that registering to vote and being an educated voter are both important parts of being a responsible citizen.

“Be aware and try to be informed about who and what you’re voting for.”

Following the panel discussion, Marshalltown Police Detective Kraig Lageschulte and Tama County Detective Lucas Dvorak provided a special program about human trafficking to close out the day’s activities.

The 2024 ballot

Prior to the panel discussion, Auditor Kopsa revealed the results of this year’s Government Day ballot which involves students voting on issues by answering yes or no to a series of questions.

This year’s ballot addressed a plethora of issues from term limits for elected officials to private school vouchers to marijuana use to gun laws and more – providing valuable insight into the viewpoints of the next generation of Tama County voters. Ballot results printed below.


1. Should members of Congress have term limits? YES 92 NO 6

2. Do you favor open borders? YES 29 NO 29

3. Should voting rights be restored* to released felons? YES 67 NO 39

4. Is there a bullying problem in your school? YES 22 NO 76

5. Should government public school funds include vouchers to cover private school costs? YES 22 NO 76

6. Do you believe today’s TV programming, movies and video games influence violence for young people? YES 45 NO 53

7. Should we decriminalize marijuana use? YES 52 NO 46

8. Should felons convicted of marijuana use be released from jail? YES 66 NO 32

9. Would it help to have stricter gun laws to prevent killings? YES 53 NO 45

10. Is it important for the U.S. to maintain a strategically strong military? YES 93 NO 5

American Legion posts and Auxiliary units sponsoring the 2024 Tama County Government Day include Chelsea, Clutier, Dysart, Elberon, Garwin, Gladbrook, Meskwaki Nation, Montour, Reinbeck, Tama, Toledo, and Traer.

*Tama-Grundy Publishing note: The right to vote by nearly all Iowans convicted of a felony and who have discharged their sentences was restored in August 2020 by Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, when she signed Executive Order 7.