Supervisors hold pair of public hearings on Pioneer Cemetery Commission and expansion of existing hog facility in rural Dorchester

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, July 24 to address a full agenda of items, including a Public Hearing for an Ordinance to establish a Pioneer Cemetery Commission, an update on the Iowa Partnerships for Success grant and a Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®) Public Safety Plan briefing. The Supervisors moved into Public Comment, with Brad Herman of Waukon discussing local crop conditions following recent severe weather.

The Public Hearing for an Ordinance to establish a Pioneer Cemetery Commission was opened, with Dennis Nebendahl of Waterville providing feedback and participating in a discussion with the Supervisors on the matter. Supervisor Dan Byrnes advised that the Commission's budget of $1,500 is a starting point and will assist in the maintenance of pioneer cemeteries and that the Ordinance calls for a nine-person commission, which, depending on the number of volunteers, may be less. Nebendahl discussed the role of trustees in such matters and agreed that a five-person commission may be more realistic.

The Public Hearing was closed and the first reading of the Ordinance will be added to next week's agenda.

The Public Hearing for a Construction Permit Application for EB Ag, LLP was opened with Herman providing specifics about the proposed expansion which would double the size of an existing swine unit’s capacity located in rural Dorchester, increasing its rolling inventory of 2,460 to 4,900 animals, allowing enough pigs to be produced weekly to fill a 2,400-head finishing barn in a healthy manner while maintaining bio-security. Herman projects this expansion will create seven to eight new jobs. Agronomist/Manure Management Plan Manager Troy Peterson discussed the manure management plan for this facility.

Tom Wiemerslage, a farm owner near the EB Ag facility, discussed EB Ag's negative impact on roads and his concerns with the transport of dead animals from the facility. Tom and Mark Wiemerslage presented their concerns with manure run-off from EB Ag affecting their water supply and the smell produced by the facility, commenting that there has been improvement in that regard, likely from an additive or change to the feed being used by EB Ag.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed road embargoes with weight limits being enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody advised that she visited EB Ag last week with Peterson and representatives of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding the placement of a well and other environmental planning at the facility. Herman advised that trees will continue to be used around the facility, which is a measure that has improved air quality, and that there have not been changes or additives used in animal feed at the facility. The Public Hearing was closed.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of the revised 28E agreement for the Upper Iowa Watershed Management Authority. Byrnes provided some background about the 28E agreement and the Upper Iowa Drainage District, adding that, due to state codes, they are not a voting member but will serve as a liaison member. The Supervisors approved the revised 28E agreement as presented.

District Project Coordinator LuAnn Rolling with the Allamakee County Soil, Water and Conservation District (SWCD) provided an updated Watershed Inspection Report. Rolling advised that the Little Paint and English Bench Watersheds are in good shape with a few areas that need to be addressed, including the stabilization of a couple of areas using rock.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of signing Certificates of Substantial Completion for Allamakee County Public Safety Center contractors including Winona Controls, 7 Rivers, Noah Detention, Midwest Fire and SEE Electric. The Supervisors approved and signed the Certificates of Substantial Completion, which mark a stage of completion where an owner can utilize or occupy the work for its intended use. Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick advised that the sewer pipe repairs near the administrative office and lobby area of the new Public Safety Center have been taken care of under the facility’s one-year warranty.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed the Nyhart Service Agreement for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) General Accounting Standards Board (GASB), whose service adds information to the County's audit report. The Supervisors approved the continuation of the GASB45 accounting and financial reporting procedure at $2,700 for a final year before the GASB75 rule change becomes mandatory at a higher cost of $3,200.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake presented multiple plat requests for review and approval. The David E. Fish, Sr. plat request, the David F. and Laure A. Weymiller plat request, the Jon T. or Deborah L. Egan plat request and the Blair W. and Jessica M. Everman plat requests were individually reviewed and approved.

The Supervisors moved into the discussion and consideration of action on a draft permit for Regancrest. Beyer explained that the Supervisors have an option to contest a draft permit, an item that had been previously approved. The Supervisors agreed that no action would be taken and the measure moves forward.

Quarterly Reports for the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department were accepted and placed on file. The Supervisors also approved the Hacker, Nelson and Co. engagement letter for the continuation of their audit services. Ridenour also advised that Civil Engineering Technician Jason Pelock has resigned, effective July 28, which the Supervisors accepted.

Sheriff Mellick discussed his recommendations for the full-time dispatcher/corrections officer position and the reserve deputy and transport officer positions. Mellick indicated that he recommends James Kruger for the full-time dispatcher/corrections officer position at a salary set by Union contract to be hired immediately, which the Supervisors approved. Mellick indicated that he recommends Andrew Dornath and Mary Bissell for the part-time reserve deputy and transport officer positions, which the Supervisors also gave their approval to.

Mellick also briefly discussed the courthouse cameras agenda item, advising that he wishes to revisit this matter following RAGBRAI. Mellick will request a price estimate and he discussed that some of the newer cameras that were replacements possibly could be utilized by the new surveillance system.

Candia Sanders, a property owner on Irish Hollow Road in rural New Albin, addressed the Supervisors with concerns about truck traffic. Sanders indicated that there is a "horrendous" amount of truck traffic on Irish Hollow Road due to two nearby quarries and that a large amount of dust is being created by that traffic. Sanders advised that she plans outdoor activities, including gardening, around the typical hours of truck traffic in order to avoid the dust. She described a recent incident with two of those trucks hauling rock and how, due to the dust and lack of visibility, her vehicle was almost struck.

The Supervisors will discuss case law relating to truck traffic and dust with County Attorney Jill Kistler. Schellhammer recommended that Sanders create a petition and get the support of neighbors also affected, with the idea of reaching a compromise in mind. Sheriff Mellick suggested working with the quarries and trucking companies to better space loads for safety.

SPF-SIG Coordinator Maxine Grotegut provided an update for the Iowa Partnerships for Success grant and related substance abuse prevention activities. Grotegut discussed the informational materials that have been used in schools, including table tents, popcorn bags, school newspapers, text book covers and materials for the general public, including posters, a billboard by the highway and movie theater ads in Prairie du Chien, WI. Grotegut discussed survey results and increased awareness, noting that 89% of Allamakee County students have seen the campaign. Grotegut also discussed compliance checks of alcohol establishments within the county, noting only two failures, both of those occurring in Lansing.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed safety budget items and moved into a presentation about the RAGBRAI Public Safety Plan. Snitker outlined the emergency response protocols relating to natural and man-made disasters. He also discussed emergencies related to weather, hazardous materials release and railroads, and outlined planning related to communications, law enforcement and medical matters.

Under Departmental Reports, Ridenour discussed recent storm damage and the removal of trees off of County roads. Snitker discussed Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ recent disaster declaration following last week’s storms. Beyer advised that her office is working on getting tax statements out to property owners.