Supervisors hold regular meeting in Lansing as part of proposed rotation

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, September 19 at the Meehan Memorial Public Library in Lansing per its arrangement to try and meet at all the public library locations within the county throughout the year. Discussion took place on a variety of issues, including property insurance endorsements relating to the new Public Safety Center, hiring temporary election personnel and consideration of liquid propane (LP) bids.

During Public Comments, Allamakee County Economic Development Executive Director Val Reinke was present, mentioning that October 13 is the Allamakee County Economic Development annual meeting, and it is planning to be held with visits to Mt. Hosmer, the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center and the Museum of River History and Commercial Fishing in Lansing. Meehan Memorial Library Director Derva Burke welcomed the Supervisors and those in attendance to the library. Burke provided an overview of the library's services and programs, explaining that yoga and balance classes are taught in the basement classroom and that the library has become an office away from home for many that travel or are tourists due to its wi-fi availability. Burke described the 2003 exterior addition that created more space for the library and also advised there are programs benefiting people of all ages offered by the library, describing programs for children that take place Fridays all summer long and another where sixth graders are part of a program that allows them to read to senior citizens.

Burke said new computers and the capability for scanning and printing are now available at the library. Working with IowaWORKS, Burke said the library has been assisting Blumenthal Lansing employees displaced by the factory closure, explaining that meetings not only assist in job search activities but also help provide emotional support during this difficult time. Library Board member Katie Dodge-Hanson spoke about the Board's activities including budget review, fundraising and continuing to offer programs that benefit the needs of the public.

Property insurance endorsements were discussed by Jane Regan with Leschensky Insurance. With the recent earthquake that could be felt locally, Regan was requested to present information on adding an earthquake endorsement to the Public Safety Center's coverage. She explained there would be a ten percent deductible per building with a one-week period per earthquake event to account for aftershocks that may occur following the original event. The Supervisors discussed the possibility of an earthquake endorsement that could be added to the builder's risk insurance for the Public Safety Center. No action was taken at this time.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed the need for hiring temporary election personnel, saying that September 26 through November 10 is the period of time extra help is needed during election time and following the election to assist in wrapping up that process. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon was mentioned by Beyer as being a typical shift for a temporary hire, with fewer hours possible depending on workload. Beyer had spoken with several possible candidates, with Carter Leiran, a NICC college student, expressing interest in the position. The Supervisors approved the hire of Carter Leiran at $10 per hour as a temporary employee during election time, September 26 through November 10.

Beyer also addressed the next agenda item relating to acknowledging employees who are now exempt from overtime but will become non-exempt December 1 due to changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act. With this change in law, employees earning less than $913 per week ($47,476 annually) will become non-exempt and will earn overtime pay. Beyer advised that seven department heads within the County staff will be affected by this change and said that the consideration is whether or not to set salaries above the new Fair Labor Standards Act threshold if their earnings are close to this amount and, with overtime pay, would exceed that amount annually. The Supervisors discussed the need for tracking hours and that this matter needs further discussion. Board of Supervisors Chairman Larry Schellhammer recommended discussing this further at the Department Head meeting scheduled for next week. No action was taken at this time.

As Supervisor Dan Byrnes opened sealed bids, Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour provided some background on the County's need for LP gas. Ridenour explained that the County owns all of its own tanks, which allows for the solicitation of bids from companies. The County will need 30,000 gallons in total with 14,000 gallons for the Road Department, 1,000 gallons for Conservation, 1,000 gallons for Solid Waste and Recycling and 14,000 gallons for the Public Safety Center.

Bids were received from Ag-Vantage FS, Fauser Energy Resources, Waukon Feed Ranch, and Welch Feed and LP Gas. As low bidder, Welch Feed and LP Gas was approved for 30,000 gallons of LP gas at 67 cents per gallon with a total cost of $20,100.

Ridenour discussed the temporary road closure of Cherry Valley Drive, explaining that pavement will be removed from the east end of Cherry Valley Drive/B38 near Postville. He said the project will involve paving and include road shoulders and guardrails. Ridenour estimated seven to eight weeks of road closure to complete the project, depending on weather.

Ridenour also addressed the next agenda item involving quotes for a pick-up truck for the Secondary Roads Department. Ridenour explained that bids were based on orders for a 2017 crew-cab, 4x4, 3/4 ton long-box pick-up. Bids were received from Torkelson's of Waukon for a Dodge 2500 Tradesman and from R.W. Pladsen Inc., Waukon for a Chevrolet 2500 HD W/T. Ridenour commented that either pick-up would work well for the County's needs. The low bid for the Chevrolet pick-up from R.W. Pladsen was approved.

Ridenour explained that this pick-up will replace the Secondary Roads Department's 2003 diesel pick-up that was totaled on the Great River Road when a tree fell on the truck as Secondary Roads Department employees were traveling down the road. He said no County employees were injured in this accident.

The underground utility permit for Alliant Energy on Columbus Road was also discussed by Ridenour, who said this will provide services for the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center. The permit involves underground primary cable and conduit that will not affect any roads. The permit was approved by the Supervisors.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed that the six-county meeting has been postponed to Friday, September 30. He also advised that travel on Great River Road will have delays between Wexford and Harpers Ferry due to continuing road work.

Beyer advised that absentee voting will start in the Auditor's office September 29. She said she has received a website link with details about the judges on the ballot and that this link will be added to the County Auditor's section of the website as information for voters who have questions about judges before casting their vote.

Allamakee County Conservation Director James Janett discussed that he is hoping to reach the threshold necessary for a FEMA declaration with several clean-up projects following recent storm damage. He advised that fundraising is going well for the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center, saying that a $25,000 donation was recently received, with several other gifts and other grants also set to be coming in. Janett said stone work and masonry work is done at the project site.