Pair of Supervisors meetings this past week include discussion of quarry scales with IDALS officials and area owners, revocation of vehicle privileges for County Zoning Administrator and HIPAA policy update

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in a delayed regular session Tuesday, January 22 following the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, January 21, and met again in regular session Monday, January 28. Coverage of both meetings appears below.

During Public Comment to open the January 22 regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors, Mark Reiser of Lansing questioned the Supervisors about the $2,563.69 expense that was approved at the January 14 Supervisors meeting. The Supervisors clarified that the expense was related to signage and landscaping expenses at the Allamakee County Public Safety Center.

Entering into regular business, the Supervisors reviewed the Manure Management Plan from Scott Sanness, which was accepted and placed on file. Quarterly reports from Planning and Zoning and the Relief Office were accepted and placed on file. The disallowance of a Homestead Tax Credit was also approved as presented.

Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett discussed a request to use the County credit card for the Conservation Department’s monthly phone bill. Janett explained that the telephone service provider has encouraged credit card payment, which would streamline the payment process and eliminate the time necessary for issuing a paper check and mailing, while guaranteeing no late fee. The Supervisors approved the Conservation Board’s use of the County credit card for monthly phone bill payments.

The Supervisors approved the appointment of Main Street Lansing Executive Director Andy Kelleher to the Transportation Policy Enhancement Committee. Kelleher also addressed the next agenda item involving a proclamation for Main Street Matters. Kelleher presented a request to proclaim the chili cook-off scheduled for Saturday, March 16 in Lansing as an official Allamakee County event. The Supervisors approved the proclamation of the event as the Official Allamakee County Chili Cook-Off.

The Supervisors moved into the next agenda item involving county librarian updates. Due to weather-related road conditions, several of the county librarians scheduled to provide updates were not in attendance. Library Director Cindy Berns of the Postville Public Library thanked the Supervisors for the County’s support. Berns discussed some upcoming expenses for the Postville Library including a new furnace and air conditioning system. Berns indicated that Northeast Iowa Telephone Company (NEIT) has pledged to not terminate internet services as problems with illegal movie downloads have been addressed on site and by area schools. Berns also advised that an individual that has helped with information technology (IT) issues is moving away, with that expense likely to increase under a different service provider. Berns discussed the scanning of newspapers and their availability on the library’s website.

Library Trustee Russ Hagen of the Waterville Public Library discussed the library’s new home within the Waterville Community Center, the former Waterville Elementary School building. Hagen discussed the conversion into a community center with the library, history room, gymnasium and programming keeping youth, families and elderly involved. Hagen indicated that a variety show is scheduled for February 17.

The Supervisors discussed the next agenda item involving setting meeting dates at county libraries in 2019 with plans for business and industry visits while in each community. The Supervisors agreed to continue a June through November schedule for 2019 with visits to take place the third Monday of each month. The Supervisors approved a schedule consisting of New Albin in June, Lansing in July, Harpers Ferry in August, Waterville in September, Postville in October and Waukon in November.

The Supervisors moved into the discussion and consideration of quarry scale/operation requirements. Bureau Chief Randy Watts and Inspector Mark Bickal, both of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), were part of the discussion by conference call with the Supervisors, Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour and representatives of area quarries in attendance. Watts provided an overview of Iowa Code relating to quarry scales, which must be licensed by IDALS. Watts explained that a scale can continue to be used until brought up to code with a sticker signifying that a plan is in place to meet requirements.

Watts also advised that IDALS is not involved in decisions by the County to purchase from quarries with unlicensed scales. Various other issues were also discussed including scale accuracy, washout slabs and approaches, split weighing and weighing beyond capacity not being allowed, quarry owners being required to know regulations and that IDALS is working towards having all quarry scales licensed.

Ridenour addressed the next agenda item involving the consideration of detouring traffic through Waukon on to County roads for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March and the Waukon Holiday Parade in December. Ridenour advised that the proposed detours would take place Sunday, March 17 from 12-3 p.m. and Monday, December 2 from  5:30-7 p.m. on a portion of Ninth Street SW (X12) and Iron Mine Drive. The Supervisors approved the detour route.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake indicated that the Planning and Zoning meeting has been postponed and that vacation and short-term rentals will be discussed at the rescheduled Planning and Zoning meeting. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that budget work is ongoing.

Blake then requested a closed session regarding a personnel issue listed on the agenda, with that closed session being granted by the Supervisors. When the regular session resumed, based on the discussion held in closed session, the Supervisors approved that Blake will be assigned desk duty in his office until April 22, 2019 and will no longer be allowed to drive a vehicle in a County capacity and that the County’s insurance carrier is to be notified that Blake is an excluded driver, with no further information regarding the basis of those decisions being made available based on the County’s personnel and closed session policies.

The Supervisors recessed for lunch and when the meeting resumed, budget work sessions were held with department heads to discuss Fiscal-Year 2020 budget proposals.

There was no Public Comment to begin the Monday, January 28 regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors. The Supervisors moved into the review of six plat requests with Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake individually presenting information and discussing the details of each request. Blake indicated that the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Plat Review Board have provided recommendations for approval of each including the Jo Ann P. Tangen Revocable Living Trust, Vernon W., Eilene A., Ronald P. and Angela M. Cooper, Dennis W. and Betty Regan, Dale E. and Merlene L. Donahue, Triple M Ridge Farms LLC and Ian James and Amy Joan McCormick plat requests. The Supervisors individually approved each plat request.

The Treasurer’s Semi-Annual Report was reviewed by the Supervisors, which was accepted and placed on file. The Supervisors also reviewed the list of Homestead tax credits and Military tax exemptions, which were all approved as presented.

Setting a date for the Fiscal-Year 2020 Allamakee County Budget public hearing was discussed. March 4 at 9:40 a.m. was approved as the date and time for the public hearing.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer provided information relating to the next agenda item involving discussion of updating the County Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) policy. Beyer indicated that she has been gathering information in anticipation of updating the County’s policy to meet changing requirements of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding medical information and data security. Beyer discussed utilizing the services of a vendor to assist in updating the policy and with implementation and training.

Beyer first discussed information provided by Carosh Compliance Solutions with corporate headquarters in Merrillville, IN and a location in Iowa City. Beyer presented the four service levels offered by Carosh Compliance, associated costs and feedback received from other counties in Iowa that have utilized their services. Beyer discussed information received from the other vendor, Compliancy Group, LLC with headquarters in Greenlawn, NY, and the feedback received from other counties in Iowa. Beyer indicated that she will pursue clarification on the quotes received and the available options before providing a recommendation.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed current weather conditions with snowfall and cold temperatures, which led into a discussion of conditions necessary for the weather-related closure of the Allamakee County Courthouse. Supervisors Chairperson Larry Schellhammer and Supervisors Dan Byrnes and Dennis Koenig provided feedback on the matter.

Koenig advised that the County Social Services (CSS) meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 30 has been canceled in anticipation of extreme cold temperatures. Ridenour discussed planning for the next Six County Meeting and briefly discussed the 2019 Department of Transportation (DOT) Street Project.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker advised that gen-7 tourniquets will be purchased allowing each County Sheriff’s Department vehicle to have two tourniquets available for emergencies. Snitker discussed pediatric kits for automated external defibrillators (AED) and ongoing work in developing a procurement policy for the Emergency Management Commission. Snitker advised that February 13 is the public hearing date for the Emergency Management proposed budget and provided an update on the tabletop and full-scale railroad hazardous material release exercises planned for New Albin.

Blake discussed the recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting regarding short-term rentals with that discussion to continue at the next meeting. Blake briefly discussed proposed legislation relating to a zoning regulation exemption for fireworks sales.

Beyer discussed ongoing budget work that is taking place. Prior to adjournment, Snitker commented on the de-escalation training conducted by Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick, which went well and the information being well received by those in attendance. Following the meeting, the Supervisors held a budget work session with department heads for Fiscal-Year 2020.

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