Supervisors updated on upcoming LOSST election, discuss troublesome intersection

by Bob Beach

During the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, July 15, Allamakee County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Denise Beyer updated the Board on the special election scheduled for August 5 on the renewal of the Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST). Beyer said that absentee voting is available now in the Auditor's office at the courthouse and will remain available until 11 a.m. the day of the election.
She told the Board that polls will be open from 12 noon until 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 5, with all three Waukon wards voting at the Northeast Iowa Community College center in Waukon; French Creek, Jefferson, Ludlow and Union Prairie Townships at the Waukon Banquet Center; City of Postville, Franklin and Post Townships at Turner Hall; City of Waterville, Linton and Paint Creek Townships at Waterville City Hall; City of Harpers Ferry, Fairview and Taylor Townships at the Harpers Ferry Community Center; and Center, Lafayette and Lansing Townships at the Kerndt Brothers Savings Bank Community Center in Lansing. She explained that the City of Lansing is not having an election because Lansing's local option sales tax does not have a "sunset date." More details about the upcoming election, along with sample ballots for all six polling sites, are printed on Pages 3B-5B in this week's issue of The Standard.

Maury Gallagher of Postville addressed the Board with concerns about the safety of the intersection of Old Highway 9 and Old Stage Road west of Waukon. He told the Board that his sister-in-law was seriously injured at the intersection recently and that he had a close call at the same intersection himself previously.
He said that there are "a lot of different ways to get killed there" because of limited sight distance, especially west of the intersection. "Even if you do what you're expected to do - stop and look - you can't see what's coming," he said, telling the Board that the road needs to be reworked to eliminate the dip in the road west of the intersection.
Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick told the Board that the main factors that contribute to automobile accidents include human error, mechanical failure, weather and engineering. He said that the intersection combines an engineering problem with human error, which makes the intersection dangerous.
Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour said that some things have been done recently to improve the safety of the intersection, such as adding red flags to the stop signs and rumble strips to the north and south. He said that the removal of the pine trees to the west would improve visibility considerably, but the trees are on private property and the land owner does not want them removed.
Ridenour told the Board that a safety consultant from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has offered some other suggestions, including removal of some non-regulatory signs near the intersection, "stop bar painting," a median island, reducing the speed limit on the road, adding intersection lighting (though only one accident at the intersection in the last ten years has been at night) and adding flashing LED beacons. He said that the consultant did not recommend making the intersection a four-way stop, noting that there were, on average, two or fewer accidents at the intersection each year, while the threshold for a four-way stop at an intersection is five or more accidents per year, adding that a four-way stop at the intersection would likely result in rear-end collisions. Ridenour also noted that, based on DOT data, the intersection is ranked as the 23rd least safe in the county and 6,831st statewide.
Gallagher said that all of Ridenour's suggestions have merit, but insisted that the only way to really fix the problem is to fix the road.
Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer asked Ridenour to prepare an estimate on the cost to remove the dip from the road. Ridenour agreed to do so and said that he would also apply for a grant for solar-powered safety beacons, which cost approximately $2,500 each, and move forward with implementing other safety measures at the intersection.

During regular business, the Board held a public hearing regarding a rezoning request by Launee Halvorson for property on Waterville Road. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake said that Halvorson would like to build a commercial storage facility on the property and has requested rezoning from agricultural (A-1) to commercial (C-1).
Blake said that no objections to the change had been heard when the Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on the request and that the Commission recommended approval with the stipulation that the property be used only for a commercial storage facility. Hearing no comments, the Board closed the public hearing and passed an amendment to the zoning ordinance and map in accordance with the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation.
The Board also met with Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler and bond attorney Bob Jostens (by telephone) to complete the process of securing a $750,000 loan on behalf of the member townships of the Waukon Area Fire Protection District to fund the construction of a new fire station. Kistler presented the Board with eight resolutions to approve separate loan agreements with each of the townships, with the principle amounts determined by property valuations, as follows: Center Township, $29,838.20; Franklin Township, $19,016.46; French Creek Township, $59,150.02; Hanover Township, $74,466.16; Jefferson Township, $154,861.57; Ludlow Township, $111,346.97; Makee Township, $131,260.84; Union Prairie Township, $170.059.78. Jostens said the loan process would be complete Tuesday, June 22. The Board also agreed that the townships would be billed equal amounts to cover Josten's fee as bond attorney.
In other business, the Board signed a program contract with the Iowa Development Authority and other paperwork related to a $311,972 Community Development Block Grant for the construction of a wellness facility at TASC in Waukon. The Board also accepted and placed on file the Recorder's quarterly report and both the semi-annual and annual reports from the Treasurer's office.