English Bench Watershed site repair, relocating Relief Office among items discussed during pair of Supervisor sessions

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session twice within a week, including Tuesday, September 3 following the closure of the Allamakee County Courthouse Monday, September 2 in observance of the Labor Day holiday and again Monday, September 9.

During Public Comment, Waukon City Council member John Ellingson discussed concerns relating to a stockpile of asphalt millings along Green Valley Road that are within the County’s right of way, potential drainage issues involving a water retention basin and some damage to 16th Avenue NW. Executive Director Val Reinke with Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) provided a six-page schedule of events taking place in September within the county and provided an overview of several specific events.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of changes to the County’s Application for Land Division (Form A) with Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake providing an overview of sections that have been deleted or changed. The Supervisors approved changes to Form A as presented.

Reinke addressed the next agenda item relating to the appointment of Director and Alternate for the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association. Reinke indicated that these appointments are updated yearly and provided a recommendation to appoint Executive Director Andy Kelleher of Main Street Lansing as Director with Reinke appointed as Alternate. The Supervisors approved the appointment of Kelleher as Director and Reinke as Alternate for the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association.

The Supervisors reviewed and approved a Certificate of Adjustment involving an error in a land assessment. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed the Proclamation setting September 2019 as National Voter Registration Month and to set September 24 as National Voter Registration Day in Allamakee County. Beyer read aloud the proclamation (see the proclamation text below this article) and provided additional recommendations for the public to consider, including:

- Register to vote, if not already registered, by October 25. This can be done in the Auditor’s office, by mailing a voter registration form to the Auditor’s office, or going online at sos.iowa.gov and clicking on the Register to Vote box partway down on the left side of the page.
- Make any necessary changes to Voter Registration including name changes or address changes by October 25.
- Watch for a mailing in late September/early October notifying voters of any changes in their voting location for city/school elections. All Allamakee County voters will now be voting in the same location for City/School elections as they vote for Primary and General elections.  Even if there is not a change to their voting locations, voters may receive a mailing to avoid any confusion.
- Citizens may register to vote election day, but being registered by October 25 will make their experience at the polls more efficient and stress-free.

The Supervisors approved Monday, September 23 at 9:40 a.m. as the date and time for the Public Hearing for the Fiscal-Year 2020 Allamakee County budget amendment.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed a letter written to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) relating to the repair of English Bench Watershed Site #9. Ridenour read aloud a portion of the letter indicating that due to the substantial cost of the temporary repair, the County and landowner are in agreement to delay the temporary fix until next summer when a permanent repair could possibly be done by the NRCS. Ridenour discussed the questions listed in the letter including recommendations for a permanent plan or solution, whether a permanent set of plans can be done by early summer 2020 and if NRCS funding will be available. The Supervisors approved signing the letter to the NRCS relating to repairs to English Bench Site #9.

Ridenour also recommended approving the resolution to add a stop sign at the Hartong Drive and Schweinfirth Road intersection. The Supervisors approved the resolution.

Under Department Head Updates, Schellhammer provided information to Ridenour about the matter mentioned during the Public Comment portion of the meeting relating to the 16th Avenue NW and Green Valley Road area. Schellhammer and Supervisors Dennis Koenig and Dan Byrnes were in agreement to view the site discussed later in the week.

Ridenour indicated that the road closure for Dorchester Drive will begin September 4 to allow a culvert repair. Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker indicated that September is Preparedness Month and discussed upcoming meetings that have been scheduled.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake provided an update on a permit issued for a structure south of Lansing that involved a variance that was granted, but due to the height of the structure blocking neighbors’ view was appealed to the Board of Adjustment. Blake indicated that Dennis Keatley has decided to not seek another term on the Board of Adjustment.

Beyer reported that a new employee has started in her office and that preparations are being made for the November 5 combined City and School elections. Koenig provided an update on County Social Services (CSS).

There was no comment from the public during the Public Comment portion of the Monday, September 9 Board of Supervisors regular meeting.

The Public Hearing for a change in zoning district boundaries from A1 to R2 for Valle Vu Estates on the south edge of New Albin was opened. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake discussed the requested zoning change from A1 - being agriculture with a minimum of three-acre lots - to R2 - being rural residential and typically adjacent to communities. Blake indicated that no comments have been received and that the Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended adoption of the requested change, describing it as consistent with the existing use and planned future use of the property.

The Public Hearing was closed and the First Reading of Amendment #3 to Zoning Ordinance L was approved. September 23 at 9:45 a.m. was set as the Second/Third Readings to Amendment #3 to Zoning Ordinances.

The Supervisors moved into the next agenda item relating to a plat request by Brian and Tammy Stortz. Blake provided an overview of the plat request, which was then approved. Beyer discussed the Fiscal-Year 2020 Transfer from the General Fund to the Emergency Medical Services Fund in the amount of $9,050.00. The transfer was approved. The Manure Management Plan update from Progressive Ag LLC was also accepted and placed on file.

Raleigh Buckmaster of rural Lansing discussed his request to vacate a portion of County Road 527, indicating that the request is related to cleaning up matters involving abstracts and deeds. Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett indicated that there are no concerns relating to connectivity to trails with Buckmaster having provided access and having been cooperative with past events and hikes.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed that there is no reason to keep this portion of road, which is a dead end with Buckmaster being the only landowner affected. Ridenour further discussed that the landowner may be expected to pay some associated expenses in this process. Byrnes indicated that the Supervisors will view the road prior to a public hearing. The Supervisors approved to move forward with the process of vacating County Road 527 while waiting to set a public hearing date at a later time.

Director Rebecca Hawes of Allamakee County Relief Services addressed the next agenda item relating to the discussion of changing the location of the Relief Office. Hawes discussed security and safety concerns relating to the Relief Office layout and limited staffing. Hawes and the Supervisors discussed a potential location on the first floor of the Allamakee County Courthouse due to the movement of materials involved in the operation of the Relief Office. Schellhammer agreed to check with other courthouse offices and will report back on the matter.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed the Dorchester Drive detour during culvert repairs and dust control measures that may be necessary. Ridenour provided an overview of the Competitive Highway Bridge Program (CHBP) with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) being awarded $33,442,000 at a 55% Federal share of estimated construction cost. Ridenour talked about the Cota Creek Bridge project, which qualifies for Federal funding and will cost $620,000 ($341,000 Federal and $279,000 County). Ridenour indicated the project will likely take place during the 2021 construction year.

Beyer reported that the Auditor’s Office is back to full staffing and that election preparation is beginning.

Janett reported that visitor volume at the Driftless Education and Visitors Center is up, maintenance projects continue and that two seasonal part-time employees have finished for the year. Janett indicated that work continues on three areas that were affected by flooding this year with the other six affected areas having been repaired. He said work continues on streambank stabilization and riprap and provided an update on the bid letting process for a handicapped accessible boating access with completion scheduled by November 1.

Prior to adjournment, Beyer advised that the September 16 Board of Supervisors meeting will take place at the Waterville Community Center (former Waterville Elementary School building) in the City Council Chambers. Reported to be on the agenda will be discussion by the Supervisors regarding ATV/UTV use on State Forest Road and Donahue Road in Yellow River State Forest.


National Voter Registration Month proclamation

WHEREAS, registering to vote empowers eligible citizens to exercise their right to vote on Election Day; and
WHEREAS, this year is the centennial celebration of women gaining the right to vote through the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and
WHEREAS, one of the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement was Iowan Carrie Chapman Catt; and
WHEREAS, Iowa is one of the nation’s leaders in voter registration and voter participation, with more than two-million residents currently registered to vote, making up 90 percent of the eligible population; and
WHEREAS, 17-year-olds are now eligible to register to vote so they can participate in Iowa’s primary elections; and
WHEREAS, the voter registration process in Iowa is easier and more convenient than ever before, with online voter registration, Election Day registration, and applications available through government agencies across the state; and
WHEREAS, the State of Iowa’s online voter registration system enables citizens to register to vote and update their registration status quickly and easily, any time of day; and
WHEREAS, we encourage all interested citizens and all appropriate media outlets and civic organizations to participate in this non-partisan voter registration awareness campaign to encourage the maximum participation of qualified voters in Iowa. 
NOW, THEREFORE, Allamakee County Board of Supervisors do hereby proclaim September 2019 as National Voter Registration Month and Tuesday, September 24th, 2019 as National Voter Registration Day.

Larry Schellhammer,
Chair, Board of Supervisors    September 3, 2019

Dan Byrnes, Supervisor

Dennis Koenig, Supervisor

Denise Beyer, Commissioner of Elections


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