Board of Supervisors holds pair of regular sessions in past week; Sets public hearing for paving of Heytman Drive, approves trio of rural four-way stop sign intersections

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session twice within a week’s time, meeting Tuesday, November 13 following the closure of the Allamakee County Courthouse Monday, November 12 in observance of Veterans Day, and meeting again Monday, November 19 in regular session. Coverage of both meetings appears below.

Following approval of the current agenda and minutes from their November 5 meeting, the Supervisors opened the Public Comment portion of the meeting with several residents living along Heytman Drive discussing concerns. Jim Dyer advised that a short section of that road near his home should be straightened to improve safety and reduce the frequency of accidents. Pat Murphy added his safety concerns on Heytman Drive.

Tom Scholl indicated that there is not another road in Allamakee County with this many homes that has not yet been paved and recommended that the boat ramp needs to be better maintained. Sam Miller discussed safety concerns on this road and mentioned a recent near miss on a corner involving his wife’s vehicle and the school district’s suburban, which he believes has continued to travel too fast on this road.

Board Chairperson Larry Schellhammer advised that he believes that the County and residents in attendance are all on the same page but may be looking at different timelines regarding this paving project. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour indicated that this road is in the County’s five-year plan but due to not having the required 50 points by Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) standards to pave without a public hearing, the project will need to go through the process of a public hearing to receive feedback regarding a potential paving project. Ridenour indicated that the Supervisors will need to set a public hearing and provided an overview of the likely timeline following a decision to move forward.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of options for the existing Makee Manor two-way communications tower. Ridenour provided an overview of available options for the tower including doing nothing by leaving the tower as is, demolition or the possibility of renting space on the tower.

Ridenour, Allamakee County E911 Director Chris Fee, Allamakee County Director of Waste Management Dave Mooney and Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker provided input regarding the available options. Following discussion with the Supervisors,

Ridenour recommended to dismantle the tower, salvaging as much as possible and stockpiling the materials for potential reuse and moving the generator to a County shop. Ridenour indicated that the new two-way communications tower may be operational as early as late January. The Supervisors approved dismantling the existing tower at an appropriate time and moving the generator to either the Waterville or Churchtown County shop.

Ridenour discussed the next agenda item involving a resolution to install stop signs at three county road intersections, making these intersections four-way stops. Ridenour indicated that the proposed change would include intersections at Old Rossville Drive and Jefferson Road, Old Rossville Drive and Autumn Road and McCabe Drive and Breezy Corners Road. Supervisor Dan Byrnes indicated that he received some positive feedback from an individual regarding changing these intersections to four-way stops. Schellhammer discussed that the lack of negative feedback reflects the public’s positive view on this proposed change.

Supervisor Dennis Koenig indicated that stop ahead signage will help motorists adapt to the change to four-way intersections, with Ridenour advising that this signage will be installed at the crest of hills to provide adequate warning for the upcoming four-way stop intersections. The Supervisors approved changing the three intersections to four-way stops.

Under Department Head Updates, Mooney discussed that the recycling department was open Monday, November 12 with traffic of just under 100 vehicles that day. Mooney provided a comprehensive plan update for the recycling department. Snitker discussed concerns recently received from a property owner living below the English Bench watershed area. Ridenour discussed the timelime for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to view this watershed area’s structure.

Ridenour also provided an update on the Green Valley Bridge, which was scheduled to open yet that same week (and did so Thursday, November 15). Ridenour discussed funding and watershed maintenance, that a contractor was injured due to a fall at a County shop and that sand hauling continues for winter preparation.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed the recent general election and results of the post-election audit.

Prior to adjournment, the Supervisors, Ridenour, Snitker and representatives of the NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) including LuAnn Rolling, Brianne Wild and Don Elsbernd, viewed the English Bench Watershed #9. Following this site visit, the Supervisors and Ridenour viewed the Mays Prairie Bridge across French Creek and the Green Valley Bridge project.

The Supervisors met at the Robey Memorial Library in Waukon as the final annual library visit for 2018 in Allamakee County. The meeting was called to order with approval of the current agenda and meeting minutes of November 13.

During Public Comment, Jack Knight discussed the English Bench watershed dam leak and that he is keeping up with this issue. Knight indicated that he would like to have the County Attorney read and research the agreement for the NRCS to get clarification on this matter.

Knight further discussed that he has concerns about the timeline for the leak at the base of the dam to be repaired. The Supervisors agreed to add this matter to the next meeting agenda but following further discussion later in the meeting, this was changed to the December 3 meeting to allow an inspection and recommendation from engineers and other State experts prior to the meeting.

Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) thanked the Supervisors for meeting at the library and for agreeing to tour the Aveka Nutra Processing facility later in the day. Manure Management Plans were reviewed and approved for Distant View Farms and Devin Humpal Site #2.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of the resolution for the Solid Waste Comprehensive Plan. Allamakee County Director of Waste Management Dave Mooney discussed that this mandatory report needs to be submitted to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) every three to five years and includes an overview of statistics and programs. Supervisor Dennis Koenig and Mooney discussed the use of landfills and the recycling program. The Supervisors approved the resolution for the Solid Waste Comprehensive Plan.

Director Cate St. Clair addressed the next agenda item, an update for Robey Memorial Library, by providing an overview of the library’s staff, Board of Trustees and fundraising activities of the Library Foundation for special projects. St. Clair indicated that Robey Memorial Library is an accredited “D” library, which means that the library meets the highest State standards for the size of population being served.

St. Clair further discussed that the library provides more programs, is open more hours, has more community space and accomplishes this with fewer staff at lower salary costs than libraries in similar communities. St. Clair provided statistics from 2017, indicating that there were 2,714 registered library users, 3,131 eBooks and 1,461 audiobooks downloaded with 32,785 physical materials in circulation, 113 programs for kids and teens and 185 programs for adults. St. Clair thanked the Supervisors for Allamakee County’s support of the library.

The Supervisors discussed setting a date for the public hearing regarding the paving of Heytman Drive. Ridenour indicated that there are many seasonal second homes on Heytman Drive with the owners not likely to be able to attend a meeting this time of year, but with the amount of positive public feedback received to move forward with the project, it would not hurt to schedule the public hearing in December. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer advised that December 3 would be the earliest date allowable for the public hearing. Ridenour further discussed that not having the required 50 points by Department of Transportation (DOT) standards to pave without a public hearing would require a public hearing on the matter. The Supervisors approved December 3 at 10 a.m. for the public hearing.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick addressed the next agenda item involving the appointment of a new Deputy Sheriff. Mellick provided a recommendation to hire Christopher McCartney as a Deputy Sheriff per Union contract at 75% of the County Sheriff’s salary with a start date of Sunday, November 25 to coincide with the beginning of the pay period. The hiring of McCartney was approved by the Supervisors.

Under Department Head Updates, Mellick discussed the Thursday, November 8 flagpole dedication ceremony and the bench donated in honor of Abigail “Abbie” Osterholm recognizing her 24 years of service to the Sheriff’s Department. Mellick briefly discussed some weather-related accidents taking place over the weekend with an empty railroad car jumping the tracks in Harpers Ferry.

Ridenour discussed the English Bench Watershed #9, with a dirt slide and leak at the base from an 18-inch overflow pipe as issues. During Ridenour’s comments, Supervisor Dan Byrnes recommended postponing the discussion on the English Bench watershed until December 3, allowing State experts to view the issues and provide a recommendation prior to discussion by the Supervisors. Ridenour further discussed the English Bench watershed and the bubbling effect taking place likely due to an artesian spring and not the leak or overflow from the watershed.

Ridenour advised that sand hauling continues as a stockpile is built up for the winter season. Ridenour also discussed precautions that will take place at the County farm and Makee Manor Cemetery with electric poles being replaced.

Beyer discussed that recount requests for the November 6 General Election will be accepted until 5 p.m. that same Monday, although none are expected. She said her office is preparing for the budget process.

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