Supervisors discuss future of English Bench Watershed Site #9, public shelter options

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, June 24 to address a full agenda of items including discussion relating to the future plans for the English Bench Watershed Site #9, discussion of the Allamakee County Courthouse as a public shelter and the consideration of a new vehicle purchase for the Secondary Roads Department.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke with Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) advised that the Allamakee Energy District is currently being formed with the next meeting to be held at Robey Memorial Library at 6 p.m. July 24 and steps being taken that include the creation of bylaws for the organization.

Reinke provided an update on the Second Annual Conference Connecting Midwest Bloggers and Midwest Destinations which took place June 13-15 in Medora, ND with food and tourism blogger Jay Jay Goodvin “The Iowa Gallivant” providing some exposure for Allamakee County at the event. Reinke also discussed “The Burial” short-film red carpet premiere held Thursday, June 20 at TJ Hunters in Lansing with over 250 individuals in attendance. Reinke touched on the locations in and near Lansing used in the film and that investors are being pursued to allow a feature length version of the film to be created using the same Lansing area filming locations.

Vice Chairperson Don Elsbernd with the Allamakee County Soil and Water District (SWCD) questioned the Supervisors about the bid letting process used for road rock. Board of Supervisors Chairperson Larry Schellhammer and Supervisor Dan Byrnes explained the bid letting process requiring qualified bidders, specifications for grade and quantity, bids read aloud at Supervisors meetings, and that Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour verifies the math in each bid.

The Supervisors moved into discussion and a teleconference call with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) representatives and landowners relating to future plans for the English Bench Watershed Site #9. State Conservationist Kurt Simon, Civil Engineer George Schaefers and Assistant State Conservationist Engineer Mark McCurdy provided feedback via telephone to questions from the Supervisors, Elsbernd, Ridenour, District Conservationist LuAnn Rolling and landowner Tom Bulman. The English Bench Watershed Site #9 was discussed as being at the end of its lifespan, failing and in need of repair.

Temporary options were discussed that would allow light vehicle traffic with a long-term solution being necessary for farm equipment to be allowed. Bulman indicated that for safety, he would be willing to wait for a long-term solution and would continue to use an alternate access for heavy farm machinery.

The NRCS representatives agreed to produce a temporary plan within two weeks. Ridenour and the NRCS representatives discussed using used culverts or piping, which Ridenour indicated are in supply.

Schellhammer closed out the conference call indicating that a letter with a temporary access design is requested within two weeks, which was agreed to by the NRCS representatives. The Supervisors approved to sign a follow-up letter to the NRCS relating to future plans for the English Bench Watershed Site #9.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer and the Supervisors discussed the one-year extension of the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) lease and the Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) sub-lease for office space within the County Courthouse. The Supervisors approved the lease extension and sub-lease.

Coordinator Jean Bossom with Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) discussed the amendment to the Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant General Conditions, an update requiring her signature for a continuation of funding. The Supervisors authorized Bossom to sign the amendment.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake addressed the next agenda item involving the signing of the amendment to the contract with UERPC for the County’s Comprehensive Plan update. Blake indicated that it has been requested to change the completion date to November 30, 2019 with an option to extend up to six months from that date if necessary. The Supervisors reviewed the request and approved to sign the contract amendment.

Two plat requests were reviewed and approved including a request from John J. Sweeney and another from Francis J. O’Regan and Jeffrey J. Allison.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed use of the County Courthouse as a public shelter. Snitker indicated that the courthouse has historically been the designated public shelter for weather emergencies, with the County Sheriff’s Department previously being housed within the courthouse providing 24/7 access to the building prior to the department’s move to the Public Safety Center. Snitker discussed other emergency public shelter options including using Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in this capacity or the creation of a public shelter near the mobile home park. Byrnes advised that daytime parking in a weather emergency situation may be an issue at VMH due to the number of vehicles present during those hours with the courthouse remaining the best option with City parking lots nearby.

Head of Maintenance John Roe discussed a request for volunteer or community service hours to be completed for the custodial department at the courthouse. Roe indicated that an individual made a request to complete community service hours in the late afternoon or early evening following daytime work hours with a regular employer. The Supervisors and Roe discussed supervision requirements with the requested community service hours being outside of Roe’s scheduled work hours. The Supervisors and Roe were in agreement that other community service options may be available and that Jane Regan with Upper Iowa Insurance Services should be consulted relating to insurance coverage and that Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick would also be consulted about hours that could be completed at the Public Safety Center grounds.

The Supervisors moved into the review and approval of Secondary Roads Department transfers including $18,403.52 from the General Basic Fund and $371,597.95 from the Rural Services Fund.

Ridenour discussed the request to purchase a new vehicle for the Secondary Roads Department. Ridenour indicated that a 2002 crew cab pick-up with 249,000 miles would be traded and that bids were received from Torkelson Motors of Waukon for a 2019 Dodge Tradesman 2500 Crew Cab 4X4 at a list price of $31,800 with trade-in of $500 at a net cost of $31,300, and another bid was received from R.W. Pladsen, Inc. of Waukon for a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Crew Cab 4X4 at a list price of $34,800 with trade-in of $2,000 at a net cost of $32,800. The Supervisors approved the purchase with the low bid from Torkelson Motors.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed the progress made with the Makee Drive paving project with shouldering currently being worked on and the road possibly being open at the end of this week. Ridenour also discussed preparations being made to pave the County Road A26 bridge approach.

Snitker discussed upcoming meetings and that he will be attending a class Wednesday and Thursday of this week outside the county. Schellhammer, Beyer and Snitker discussed the recent anniversary of 2013 flooding in downtown Waukon.

Beyer indicated that the Supervisors will meet Thursday, June 27 to address the final claims for the fiscal-year and that work will continue on end of fiscal-year matters and tax statements.

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