Supervisors discuss construction permit application for hog confinement, discovery of insurance limitation, and approve retirement of Sheriff Deputy

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, July 8 to address a full agenda of items including a Public Hearing for a construction permit for Gruber Ridge LLC, consideration of bids for concrete pavement patching and the acceptance of a letter of retirement from a County Sheriff’s Department deputy. There were no comments from the public in attendance during the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

The Public Hearing for the Construction Permit Application for the Gruber Ridge LLC confinement feeding operation was opened. Troy Peterson, Manure Plan Manager/Agronomy Sales, with Waukon Feed Ranch discussed that Daryl Gruber intends to add two barns, one for farrowing and the other for gestation, which will add 2,900 head to Gruber’s swine operation and as a result will require the addition of eight employees in the future.

Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody discussed the master matrix score of 496.75 provided by Peterson. The master matrix is the scoring system used by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in evaluating the siting of permitted confinement feeding operations. Moody indicated that an item was not selected in the master matrix evaluation for Gruber Ridge LLC indicating its environmental and worker protection violation history has been clean. Moody indicated that with that minor discrepancy resulting in a 30-point deduction, the 466.75 score is still above the 440-point requirement for approval under the master matrix.

Moody and Peterson further discussed the proximity of the proposed location to sink holes, which was beyond the distance required by the DNR. Moody indicated that no comments were received from the public on this matter. The Public Hearing was closed and the Supervisors approved the Construction Permit Application for Gruber Ridge LLC.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed the letter of retirement from Deputy Robert A. Thorsten, which was accepted and approved by the Supervisors. The Liquor License renewal for the Allamakee County Conservation Foundation was approved.

Director Heather Homewood with Allamakee County Veterans Affairs discussed the appointment of a Veterans Affairs Commissioner for the term of July 1, 2019-June 30, 2022. Homewood provided a recommendation to reappoint Pat Cota for this term, which was approved by the Supervisors.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour addressed the next agenda item involving bids for concrete pavement patching, with bids having been opened at the July 1 Supervisors meeting and including $97,573.70 for Skyline Construction, $98,246.00 for Rolling Hills Concrete and $180,460.00 for Midwest Concrete. Ridenour indicated that the Skyline bid has been corrected at $97,574.20, which was then approved by the Supervisors. Ridenour advised that the project would start at the end of August.

Assistant Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler discussed coverage of an employee deer hit expense, indicating that a couple of weeks ago Allamakee County Courthouse Head of Maintenance John Roe and Assistant Custodian Tom Rask were transporting bins of documents to be shredded at the recycling center in Winneshiek County, when a deer hit occurred. Kistler indicated that Rask volunteered to use his vehicle, since a County van was unavailable for this work-related activity, and that a claim was submitted to the County’s insurance carrier but was denied.

Kistler indicated that she and Department Heads were under the impression that this type of claim would be covered and that the insurance provider has clarified that it is liability that is covered in the use of an employee’s personal vehicle. Kistler discussed that Roe had inquired about insurance coverage for Rask’s personal vehicle prior to making this trip and was told that it would be covered. Kistler further indicated that Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke has been consulted and agrees with the recommendation that the County reimburse Rask for the $500 insurance deductible. The Supervisors approved to pay the $500 deductible and further discussed that this is a one-time situation and that Department Heads will be informed about this insurance coverage limitation.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour further discussed insurance coverage limitations relating to personal and work-related property in County vehicles. Ridenour also indicated that the A26 bridge will likely be open the last week of July with all the concrete having been put down and some work remaining relating to asphalt, guardrails and clean-up. Ridenour indicated that Makee Drive will likely be open at the end of the week with some work remaining relating to signs.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that Jenny Hennessy, CPA with Hacker, Nelson and Co. P.C. is currently doing some preliminary work relating to the auditing process. Beyer discussed changes relating to the General Accounting Standards Board (GASB). Beyer also advised that the next Supervisors meeting will take place at the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library Monday, July 15 as part of the Board of Supervisors annual tour of public libraries in Allamakee County.

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