Supervisors approve paving of portion of Columbus Road at holiday-delayed regular session, approve lease extension for Makee Manor records at regular Monday session

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in a pair of regular sessions within the past week due to the Labor Day holiday moving its first regular session in September to a Tuesday. Coverage of both the Tuesday, September 6 and Monday, September 12 regular sessions appears below.

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in a delayed regular session Tuesday, September 6 due to the Labor Day holiday on its usual meeting day, Monday, September 5. The meeting agenda included the Public Hearing for the Columbus Road Paving Project, the Resolution creating a Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee and consideration of extending the lease agreement with Jane Regan for the Makee Manor records.

The Supervisors meeting room was close to being at capacity with members of the public in attendance for the public hearing for the Columbus Road paving project, which was later on the agenda. The public comment portion of the meeting began with Jane Regan of the Iowa Mississippi River Parkway Commission providing information from the U.S. Travel Association's 2015 research. Regan explained that there have been several positive trends, including increased tourism revenue and the employment rate in the travel and tourism industry having increased for Allamakee County.

Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett thanked everyone for being in attendance for the public hearing regarding the paving project on Columbus Road. Janett shared that the Driftless Education and Visitors Center has been progressing well. Masonry work is getting close to being done, windows are installed and the decks are being added. He said fundraising is on-track with roughly $200,000 yet to be raised. Janett also thanked everyone involved in the fundraising process including those who have supported the project through donations, time and interest in the project.

Lansing Mayor Mike Brennan discussed the flooding that affected the Lansing area, saying Shaw Street was impacted by the flooding to a greater degree than other areas and that Valley Street also saw some impact. He advised that the Hideaway Hills driveway required some repair by the County. Brennan thanked the firemen that successfully performed the rescue of a couple from a cabin in the Red Barn Resort campground area.

Brennan also discussed the debris in the Mississippi River following the recent heavy rains and flooding, which includes some appliances, round bales and various items. He said there are currently 300-400 yards of debris that need to be cleaned up. Brennan mentioned that he will be inquiring about FEMA assistance in cleaning up this debris in the Mississippi River.

Columbus Road Public Hearing
The Public Hearing for the Columbus Road Paving Project was opened. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour provided some background information on this project, advising that the Columbus Road paving project has been listed in the County's five-year plan. The public hearing is needed to approve the use of $159,000 of Secondary Roads funds for the mainline paving of Columbus Road by the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center. Board Chairman Larry Schellhammer and Ridenour clarified that this is not a request for additional funds, as this project has been budgeted in the County's five-year plan.

Former Allamakee County Engineer Bill Kerndt added, "This boils down to a no-brainer to use tax money for our roads." Tom Limbach of rural Lansing shared that the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center is a first-class facility that needs paved access, adding that he believes it would reflect poorly on judgment as a County and as a community to have the only access to the Driftless Center be gravel and mud.

Jane Regan offered that attention needs to be paid to how the public is welcomed to the Driftless Center and paving makes sense for the access to the building. Mayor Brennan also added that the amount of traffic with the intersection of Columbus Road at X52 results in safety issues that warrant the paving of this road. Brennan clarified that these funds are only for the paving of the road and do not include the curb and gutters or the driveway at the Driftless Center.

All of the public comment was in favor of the Columbus Road paving project near the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center as a positive and necessary project for safety and tourism. The public hearing was closed and the Supervisors voted unanimously to support the project by approving the Resolution to Revise the Allamakee County Fiscal Year 2017 Five Year Secondary Road Program. The crowd in attendance applauded after the Supervisors approved this measure.

Regular Business
Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker addressed the next agenda item involving the consideration of creating a Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee. Snitker advised that this resolution is a State requirement for establishing who has been designated to serve on this committee and for future appointments to the committee. He said this is part of the ongoing process to develop the County's Hazard Mitigation Plan. The resolution was approved by the Supervisors.

Flood donations and the formation of a committee was discussed. Snitker and Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism Executive Director Val Reinke provided some background about the donation process and funds disbursement procedure used during previous flood events. The Supervisors discussed representation from churches, rural areas and townships as part of the framework of this committee with the involvement of a 501(c)3 non-profit. No action was taken at this time.

Extending the lease agreement with Jane Regan for the Makee Manor records was the next agenda item to be addressed. Regan advised that with the ongoing renovations at her building on Allamakee Street, the records are still safely stored in a locked room away from construction in her building. Regan recommended that the records should be moved by February 1, 2017, if not sooner. This storage room will eventually be renovated as well. A month by month lease agreement was discussed by Regan and the Supervisors, which will be presented at the next meeting.

Department Head Updates
Under Department Head Updates, Snitker discussed RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) possibly traveling through Allamakee County with Lansing as an end point. Ridenour discussed that there is a lot of flood clean-up, slides, debris in culverts and under bridges that will continue to be addressed into the fall. Ridenour said damage is still being assessed and that information will be submitted to FEMA. He also advised that contractors continue to work on the Wexford Bridge and Great River Road, and that patches are being done on County pavements.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick advised that the Public Safety Center's roof work continues with the interior floors to be poured soon and electricians having most of the conduit installed. Mellick also advised that the Sheriff's Department's German Shepherd service dog has been bred with another pedigreed German Shepherd locally. Proceeds from the sale of one the puppies fathered by the Sheriff's Department's dog will be contributed to the service dog fund.

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, September 12 to discuss a variety of issues, including the extension of the lease agreement with Jane Regan for the Makee Manor records and the acknowledgment of the Fiscal-Year 2016 Secondary Road Annual Report. There were no comments heard or read during the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

Supervisor Dan Byrnes advised that next week's meeting, Monday, September 19, will be held at the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library per the new countywide arrangement being tried this year by the Board. The extension of the lease agreement with Jane Regan for the Makee Manor records was discussed. Regan presented the Supervisors with an updated lease agreement detailing the change from a yearly lease to a month-to-month lease. The lease agreement was approved by the Supervisors.

The County's board appointment policy was discussed. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer has made updates to the policy with feedback from the Supervisors. The Supervisors discussed several items in the policy that may not be applicable to the needs of Allamakee County, such as the County does not have a uniform building code or a Board of Appeals that would oversee that code. Portions of the policy regarding County Social Services (CSS) Boards required more information or clarification before approving a finalized version of this policy. As a result, the Supervisors decided to table this issue for discussion and approval at a later meeting.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed the Madigan Winery near Lansing on the Great River Road. The business opening coincided with bridge and roadwork that affects access to the winery. Brian Madigan, owner, has purchased tourist-oriented signs to assist finding the rural location of the business.

Ridenour advised that the County will remove detour signs and run that section of roadwork as a staged construction flagging, which will improve access to the winery. Considerations discussed include road worker safety and the needs of business and property owners affected.

Ridenour also presented the Fiscal-Year 2016 Secondary Road Annual Report to the Supervisors and provided an overview. The Annual Report provided a breakdown of the Secondary Roads Department's income and expenses with $7,938,520.02 in total funds accounted for.

The discussion of non-union positions following union agreements instead of the Employee Handbook was briefly addressed. The Supervisors agreed that with the recent flooding, Ridenour and Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick have not had the time to research this issue enough to provide feedback. The Supervisors agreed to table this agenda item.

Under Department Head Updates, Mellick discussed the progress at the Public Safety Center under construction. Floors are being poured, including holding cells and the exercise room, with Mellick saying the recent rainy weather has presented challenges. Mellick also mentioned the recent fire in Lansing at which several fire departments assisted. He advised there will be a lot of activity in the county over the next several weeks with leaf lookers.

Ridenour and Mellick discussed the bridge guardrail that was struck by a vehicle in a recent accident. Ridenour also mentioned that full-depth patchwork continues on County roads.