2014 Year in Review Part 2: July - December

The items below summarize the top news stories that appeared in The Standard during the last six months of 2014.

During its regular meeting Tuesday, July 1, the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met with Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick, who introduced McKenzie Sebastian of Postville and asked for the Board's approval to appoint her as a Deputy Sheriff. The Board unanimously approved the appointment and Mellick noted that Sebastian is the first female Deputy Sheriff in Allamakee County.

The Waukon City Council was confronted by concerned and frustrated citizens during its regular meeting Monday, July 7. Several of those citizens were residents whose homes are on or near Third Street Northeast, which was recently newly paved. Former Waukon mayor Keith Schoeder, a resident of that area, called the project a "disaster" because the sidewalk is now far below the level of the street, which has resulted in storm water running into people's yards, garages and homes. "I've never seen anything so bad," Schroeder said, calling the situation "a lawsuit waiting to happen."
Councilmen Trent Mitchell, Don Steffens and Steve Wiedner all agreed with Schroeder's assessment of the situation, though there was some disagreement as to who is responsible.

Several Allamakee County citizens were on hand to receive 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Awards from Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds during a special recognition ceremony held in late June in Cedar Falls. Lansing residents Bruce Palmborg and Ric and Betty Zarwell, Waukon resident Pam Delphey, and local businesses Kerndt Brothers Savings Bank of Lansing and Harpers Ferry, and Upper Iowa Resort and Rental of Dorchester were each honored for the volunteer efforts they have put forth this past year.

The Kee softball team wrapped up its undeniably best season in program history with a runner-up finish in the Class 1A State Tournament held in Fort Dodge. Playing to a 34-10 final overall record that included a new school record for most wins in a season and the program's first-ever Upper Iowa Conference (UIC) championship with a mark of 20-2 against UIC opponents, the softball Hawks blasted through three regional tournament games by a combined scoring margin of 35-1 before pulling off what most believed to be upsets with wins in their first two State Tournament games to earn a coveted berth in the Class 1A State Championship game. That State Tournament run included a 4-0 first-round victory over second-rated Lynnville-Sully Tuesday, July 22 and then a 3-1 semifinals triumph over fourth-rated AGWSR Thursday, July 24. It took the undefeated and defending Class 1A State Champion, Akron-Westfield, to finally halt Kee's State Tournament momentum. Following the 12-1 loss the highly-regarded Westerners handed the softball Hawks in that State Championship game Friday, July 25, they have now won four of the last five Class 1A State Championships in making State Tournament appearances in 11 of the last 12 seasons, continuing a current winning streak of 54 games with their second consecutive Class 1A State Tournament crown.

Renewal of the Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST) was approved by Allamakee County voters in a special election held Tuesday, August 5 in the cities of Waukon, Waterville, Postville, Harpers Ferry and New Albin, as well as in the unincorporated areas of those communities, all polling sites reporting that approval by wide margins.
Voters in all of those jurisdictions approved a ten-year renewal of the tax, with the exception of Harpers Ferry, where voters approved renewal of the tax with no "sunset date."
Results provided by the Allamakee County Auditor's Office show the following vote totals ("Yes" votes-"No" votes):
City of Waukon, 220-28; Waterville, 17-0; Postville, 48-3; Harpers Ferry, 27-0; New Albin, 20-2; Unincorporated, 221-23. That Unincorporated total includes the following township totals:
Hanover/Waterloo, 15-1; Iowa/Union City, 17-1; French Creek/Jefferson/Ludlow/Makee/Union Prairie, 82-9; Center/Lafayette/Lansing, 18-5; Fairview/Taylor, 21-1; Linton/Paint Creek, 27-3; Franklin/Post, 9-2; Absentees, 32-1.
The City of Lansing has no "sunset date" on the one-percent sales and service tax, so no election was held there.

It's been labeled the "end of an era." But the man it means the most to calls it "the beginning of a new chapter."
Gene Schultz, the legendary coach of Kee High School baseball for the past 45 years and the nation's all-time winningest high school baseball coach, had his retirement from that long-time helm made official Monday, August 18 with the acceptance of his letter of resignation by the Eastern Allamakee Community School District Board of Directors at its regular monthly meeting. That retirement brings to a close a coaching career likely never to be rivaled with an overall record of 1,754 wins against just 398 losses, but also opens the door to a number of other possibilities for Schultz and his family.
"It was time to come to this decision," Schultz said. "And it's not because I don't want to coach baseball anymore, but more because there are so many other things that I want to do and will now have more time to do. I'm going to just relax for a while, get settled into our new home in La Crescent (MN), our first grandchild is coming along in the near future, and I just plan to enjoy some quality time with the years I have left. I'm also going to try to figure out what this game of golf is all about, and that should certainly keep me on my toes."

During the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, August 19, the Board met with Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick, who reported that the Public Safety Center Committee had interviewed an engineering firm and three architectural firms and had agreed to recommend Rick Weidner, AIA of Bennington, NE to develop plans and specifications for the construction of a new jail and public safety center.
Mellick said that Weidner has extensive experience in jail design and has worked with the County's contracted jail consultant, John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants, on numerous similar projects. The Board accepted the Committee's recommendation and approved a contract with Rick Weidner, AIA that includes $8,500 for the initial plans and drawings and 6.35% of the final construction costs.
Mellick also reported that Hansen, Weidner and the Committee agreed to work towards getting a bond referendum on the ballot for this year's general election in November. Mellick said that the project cost would not exceed $4.9 million and that the bond referendum would require 60% approval by voters in order to pass.

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors continued discussions Tuesday, August 26 about plans to construct a new public safety center to house the County's jail, Sheriff's Department, Emergency Management Department and E911 Department. County Attorney Jill Kistler presented the Board with a resolution to add a bond referendum to the ballot for the November 4 general election this year, which would ask voters to approve the issuance of $4.9 million in general obligation bonds to fund the project.
After some discussion, the Board unanimously approved a resolution to put the following question to voters November 4: “Shall the County of Allamakee, State of Iowa, enter into a loan agreement and issue general obligation bonds in an amount not exceeding the amount of $4,900,000, for the purpose of acquiring real estate (if necessary), preparing a site, and constructing, furnishing and equipping a Public Safety Center that will provide space for the Sheriff’s Department, jail, dispatch center, Emergency Management Department and E911 Department?”

The Waukon City Council met in special session Tuesday, August 26 for further discussions about the paving project on Third Street NE. Mayor Loren Beneke told the Council that Veenstra and Kimm, Inc., an engineering firm based in Mason City, had agreed to review the engineering work on the project done by TeKippe Engineering, a division of Fehr Graham Engineering, the City's engineering firm.
Following a brief discussion, the Council unanimously agreed to pay Veenstra and Kimm, Inc. a fee of $3,200 to review the engineering work on the project.

During the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, September 9, auctioneer Mike Monroe presented the Board with a check for $49,410.90, the net proceeds from the auction held at Makee Manor Monday, September 8. Monroe reported that the sale was well attended, with 327 registered bidders throughout the day. All three members of the Board commended Monroe and his staff for a job well done.

During the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, September 16, Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick presented the Board with the annual jail inspection report. Mellick said that the deficiencies noted in the report are not new, the least of which include the lack of an exercise area for prisoners and inadequate water supply and lighting.
Mellick said that the jail inspector's more serious concerns include the safety and security of prisoners, staff and the public when prisoners are being moved, also noting that prisoners' personal items and files are stored in areas that are accessible to the public.
Mellick added that the jail inspector foresees problems with the upcoming implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), a federal law that requires the classification and separation of inmates.

The Allamakee County Public Safety Committee invited city officials and township trustees to a public meeting Thursday evening, October 2 regarding the proposed construction of a new jail and public safety center and the $4.9 million bond referendum to fund the project. Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick opened the meeting by saying that his job is to operate the County's jail, not to tell people how to vote.
That said, Mellick went on to give a detailed presentation covering the history of the proposed project, the deficiencies of the current jail facility, the options reviewed by the Public Safety Committee and associated costs. He concluded his presentation with a review of the layout of the proposed facility.
Mellick concluded his presentation by saying that if the $4.9 million dollar does not get the approval of 60% of the county's voters in the upcoming November 4 general election, the Public Safety Committee would review the issue again with an eye towards holding another special election in the spring of 2015.

The annual Cloy Kuhse Positive Impact Award was announced and presented to TASC, Inc. of Waukon during Allamakee County Economic Development's (ACED) annual Membership Meeting Thursday, October 9 at Turner Memorial Hall in Postville.. TASC was nominated by Tom Tierney of Waukon. TASC Executive Director Mary Ament and department heads Sheila Schulte, Bethany Hovden and Sheila Snitker accepted the award and briefly talked about the work and services they provide for individuals with specific needs.
The Cloy Kuhse Positive Impact Award is awarded to a nominated business or company, not an individual, located in Allamakee County that makes a positive difference and impacts the county. Nomination forms can be picked up at the ACED office in Waukon or are available online at www.allamakeecounty.com year-round, and award winners are always announced during the fall annual meeting.

A slight change in local leadership but no change - or at least not the proposed change - in local facilities is the message Allamakee County voters sent when they went to the polls for the Tuesday, November 4 General Election. With just under 53% of eligible voters in the county casting a ballot, area voters newly elected Dan Byrnes to the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Tuesday and re-elected Larry Schellhammer to the Board, but came up just shy of approving the proposed bond referendum for a new jail and public safety center.
With overall election results reflecting residents of Allamakee County voting right along with the majority of their statewide and districtwide counterparts in Tuesday's election, those Allamakee County voters could not come up with enough of a majority amongst themselves to pass the $4.9 million bond referendum on the ballot that would have put the wheels in motion for construction of a new jail and public safety center within the county.
Requiring a super majority of 60% plus one vote in order to pass, the referendum narrowly failed in its ballot debut, garnering just under 59.1% approval among Tuesday's voters. According to the initial unofficial vote totals following Tuesday's election, the referendum, labeled as "Public Measure G" on the ballot, received overall approval by a 2,777-1,923 vote margin, but those 2,777 "yes" votes were just shy of the necessary 60% super majority needed to pass the referendum, the measure needing either 44 "no" votes to, instead, be "yes" or needing 109 more "yes" votes without any further increase in the "no" votes in order to pass.

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors continued its discussion Tuesday, November 4 about changes to the lease agreement for cropland at the County Farm. Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer suggested requiring a deposit of $2,500 per year over the three-year lease term to give the County the leverage needed to ensure that the conservation plan to be added to the lease agreement will be followed. The Board agreed to table making a decision regarding the bids received for the cropland until the current bidders could review the conservation plan and modifications to the lease agreement and given the option to withdraw their bids.

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday evening, December 1. In addition to the typical project and other agenda items of discussion and action that took place during the meeting, the Council approved the promotion of veteran Waukon police officer Paul Wagner to the position of Assistant Police Chief upon the recommendation of Waukon Police Chief Phil Young.
The promotion was made effective immediately upon the Council's unanimous approval Monday night. Discussion of a pay raise also took place in regard to the promotion, with the Council agreeing on an hourly increase of 34 cents per hour for now in light of upcoming budget considerations and union negotiations.

Wednesday, December 3, Terry Poe Buschkamp, a Main Street District Specialist, and Jim Engle, Director of the Iowa Downtown Resource Center of the Iowa Economic Development Authority from Des Moines, presented the Main Street Lansing organization with its second  straight accreditation as a Main Street Program.
Main Street Lansing was originally accredited in 2013. A report compiled by Buschkamp and Engle culminated a three-day annual review of the program. During this review they met with several board members and volunteers to assess the progress of the group in meeting its goals and the 11 criteria points of the Main Street organization.

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Tuesday, December 2, with most everything finally falling into place for the Board to award the lease agreement for the County Farm, an action that has been on hold for several weeks for various reasons. Even though such issues as the addition of a conservation plan to the lease agreement and correspondence with bidders on such changes all finally ironed out for the Board, that did not necessarily mean that a decision on the awarding of the contract came any easier for Board members.
Discussion during that lease agreement agenda item played out in regard to various bidders and their bids as to which of the original six bidders were still leaving their bids in place and which of them had been active in pursuing further information in light of the conservation plan added to the agreement following the initial submission of bids. Following that discussion, Supervisor Dennis Koenig made a motion to award the lease agreement to Dave Einck and his bid of $277 per acre.
"I know it's not going to be the most popular decision because I'm not going with the highest bid," Koenig said. "But, I've got a lot of farmer in me, I've been farming all my life. Dave is a neighbor to that property and drives by that place every day; he sees it, and that's pretty important, as far as I'm concerned."
Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler had recommended awarding the lease to the highest remaining bid of $350 per acre submitted by Paul Regan, but admitted that recommendation was based solely on the dollar amount, which was still less than the $365 per acre lease amount contracted for the same cropland within the previous agreement coming to an end this year. "You know a whole lot more about farming than I do," Kistler said to Koenig when he offered an apology that his motion was going against Kistler's recommendation.
Supervisor Sherry Strub had first started to make a motion on the matter but did not finish, admitting she did not know enough about farming to feel comfortable in making such a motion. After Koenig made his motion for awarding the lease agreement to Einck, Strub did second that motion, but then voted "nay" on the ensuing Board vote. But both Koenig and Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer voted "aye" to carry the motion to approval and award the agreement to Einck.