Jan 27, 2022 - News

Mad about masks: Iowa nature center seeks security

A photo of Jester Park Nature Center.
Jester Park Nature Center opened in 2018. Photo courtesy of Polk County Conservation

Jester Park Nature Center will likely hire security officers after several tense confrontations between staff and individuals who refuse to comply with its mask policy, Polk County Conservation director Rich Leopold told Axios.

Threat level: Jester Park, one of Iowa's leading nature centers, has even considered closing on weekends to avoid clashes between staff and rabble-rousers, according to a county memo.

The latest: A woman with three kids wanted to attend the center's "Critter Club" earlier this month but refused to comply with the county's requirement to mask indoors.

  • She left after a center official threatened to call a deputy.

Reality check: Very few of the thousands of annual visitors to the Granger site cause problems, Leopold said.

  • Yes, but: The center often relies on volunteers during weekends, and the county doesn't want to subject them to these situations, he said.

What's next: The county will likely hire a third-party company to provide up to six hours of security on Fridays and Saturdays, Leopold said.

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