The reported presence of a sex offender in another area nursing home has a pair of local lawmakers vowing to find more secure ways to house such individuals.
But state Rep. Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge, said Saturday morning that a push from the public will be necessary to get the job done.
''If you want something done about it, you need to get engaged and make it happen,'' she said during an Eggs and Issues forum.
The secure housing of elderly sex offenders became a topic of discussion at the forum in the wake of a published report that the Gowrie Care Center was fined $2,150 by the federal government for failing to properly supervise such an individual.
Dale Gould, the administrator of the care center, declined to talk about the situation when contacted by phone late Saturday morning.
''My instructions, sir, are that I cannot comment on that,'' he said.
The fine was reportedly levied by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Efforts to reach a spokesperson for that agency were unsuccessful Saturday.
The Gowrie incident, which reportedly involved an 86-year-old man who has three sex crime convictions, marks the second time that a sex offender was reported to be in a local nursing home. In 2011, William Cubbage, a sex offender who was then 83, allegedly raped a 95-year-old woman in the Pomeroy Care Center, where both he and the woman lived.
Miller has unsuccessfully introduced two bills to address the problem. Earlier this year, she introduced a measure that would have required the state government to seek proposals from entities interested in operating a special facility for elderly sex offenders.
In 2012, she authored a bill that called for appointing a committee to examine options for creating a facility to house elderly sex offenders.
Both bills failed to advance.
Miller said there hasn't been much public outcry over the issue. She said she can count the number of emails she's received about it on one hand.
State Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, said during the forum that a company which operates nursing homes in southeastern Iowa is considering establishing a facility for sex offenders. He did not name the company.
Beall said he believes the state must do more to address the problems posed by elderly sex offenders.
''We can do better,'' he said. ''This is not the best we can do. As a matter of fact, there's an imperative - we must do better,'' he said.