On split vote, Supervisors approve to not amend County’s ATV/UTV Ordinance regarding Yellow River State Forest and extended hours

November 17-23 proclaimed as Tobacco Awareness Week ... The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors proclaimed November 17-23 as Northeast Iowa Tobacco Awareness Week at its Monday, November 4 regular meeting. In attendance to discuss and witness that proclamation were: Left to right - Front row: Waukon High School student and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) youth group co-president Regan Griffith, Helping Services for Youth and Families Tobacco Prevention Specialist Ashley Havenstrite and Waukon High School student and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) youth group co-president Maddy Waters; Back row: Allamakee County Board of Supervisors members Larry Schellhammer, Dan Byrnes and Dennis Koenig. Standard Newspaper photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, November 4 to address a full agenda of items including the Tobacco Awareness Week Proclamation, the Resolution to Transition County Social Services (CSS) Employees from Allamakee County to CSS as Employer of Record and consideration of amending the ATV/UTV ordinance in response to requested changes from the Allamakee County ATV/UTV Club.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke with Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) discussed recent events that have taken place within the county and provided an overview of several events listed in an ACED calendar hand-out for November that was presented to the Supervisors. Reinke indicated that a tour of Advanced Engineering Technology (AET) has been arranged to follow the November 18 Board of Supervisors meeting that will take place at Robey Memorial Library in Waukon.

Tobacco Prevention Specialist Ashley Havenstrite of Helping Services for Youth and Families and Co-Presidents of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Maddy Waters and Regan Griffith discussed the Tobacco Awareness Week Proclamation. Waters and Griffith discussed plans relating to promoting nicotine free parks and trails within the county, programs targeting middle school students relating to tobacco awareness and tobacco’s negative impact on health, and the use of an escape room to promote tobacco awareness.

Havenstrite indicated that tobacco kills more persons than alcohol, aids, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined, making tobacco use the leading preventable cause of death in the country, with tobacco use being harmful to both users and non-users. Havenstrite cited that 38% of children ages three to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke each year and 41,000 individuals die from secondhand smoke each year in the United States. Havenstrite also discussed the 2018 Iowa Use Survey, which indicates that 22% of 11th graders in Allamakee County have reported electronic e-cigarette use in the last 30 days, an increase from the six percent reported in 2016. The Supervisors approved November 17-23 as Northeast Iowa Tobacco Awareness Week in Allamakee County.

The Quarterly Report from Environmental Health was accepted and placed on file. Manure Management Plans for Devin Humpal Site #2 and Link 1 were accepted and placed on file.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of the Allamakee County Relief Office hiring part-time seasonal help during the Christmas season and the wage to be paid. Director Rebecca Hawes with the Relief Office discussed the request indicating that the use of part-time seasonal help would be similar to what was done last year on an as-needed basis. Hawes provided a recommendation to set the part-time position’s wage at $13 per hour. The Supervisors approved the authorization for the Relief Office to hire a part-time seasonal employee on an as-needed basis at $13 per hour.

Supervisor Dennis Koenig provided an overview of the next agenda item relating to the Resolution to Transition County Social Services (CSS) Employees from Allamakee County to CSS as Employer of Record and also transfer furniture, equipment, supplies and vehicles to CSS which were purchased with Fund 1000 tax dollars. Koenig discussed the history of CSS with the decision being made approximately eight years ago to regionalize social services that were previously provided by each individual county.

Koenig indicated that Allamakee County is a member of CSS with employees operating under their respective county while employed by CSS, which is the largest social services region within the state of Iowa. Koenig advised that a proposal has been created to make CSS the employer of record for social services employees with CSS providing health insurance to these employees. The Supervisors approved the Resolution to Transition CSS Employees from Allamakee County to CSS as Employer of Record and also transfer furniture, equipment, supplies and vehicles to CSS, which were purchased with Fund 1000 tax dollars.

Allamakee County ATV/UTV Club President Dean Anderson addressed the next agenda item relating to the consideration of the process of amending the ATV/UTV Ordinance in response to requested changes from the ATV/UTV Club and consideration of moving ahead with the amendment process.

Anderson discussed a recent meeting between the ATV/UTV Club and Friends of Yellow River State Forest (YRSF) and that a tentative compromise was discussed. Anderson said that communities have passed ATV ordinances, which has produced a positive economic impact. Anderson advised that objections to the proposed amendment relate to “what if” scenarios involving noise and safety with ATV use not creating any major issues in the county. Anderson made a comparison to the use of the Mississippi River, which has changed in the last 50 years with increased recreational boat and jet-ski traffic, describing this as an adaptation to diverse recreation interests.

Chairperson Larry Schellhammer thanked Anderson for his comments and feedback and indicated that he reached his decision to not change the existing ordinance following discussion with Department Heads, including Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour, Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick and Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett. Schellhammer indicated that the current ordinance has made a trail system out of County roads and should remain in place as-is.

Vice President Kelli Boylen of Friends of Yellow River State Forest (YRSF) indicated that the proposed compromise was taken back to the YRSF Board with five out of six board members voting against the compromise. Boylen discussed concerns relating to the proposed ATV use of Lansing-Harpers Road, which would be needed to allow ATV travel from State Forest Road to Harpers Ferry and has no passing zones or shoulders with a 55 mph speed limit. Boylen described YRSF as a destination and not a pass-through.

Schellhammer opened discussion to the other Supervisors with Supervisor Dan Byrnes opting to make no comment. Supervisor Dennis Koenig discussed attending the meeting between Friends of YRSF and the ATV/UTV Club with a tentative compromise discussed to leave Donahue Road alone and to continue discussion of the other two roads traveling through YRSF. Koenig indicated that he has received a lot of emails from outside of the county relating to ATV/UTV use on County roads traveling through YRSF, with concerns of Allamakee County residents being the priority. Koenig discussed feedback received from horse owners who are not concerned about ATV use on roads through YRSF and agreed with Anderson’s earlier comments about “what if” scenarios and said that he respected the work done by the ATV/UTV Club.

Mellick indicated that his concerns are related to safety and that he would not recommend extending the hours of operation in the ordinance. Mellick further explained that the winding roads within the county create a nighttime visibility hazard and that blinkers are not installed on all ATVs, all safety-based concerns. Dennis Blocker of the ATV/UTV Club indicated that over 50% of ATV/UTV Club members have machines with blinkers and further discussed the potential of the ordinance requiring blinkers on all ATVs operating past sunset, a requirement in Winneshiek County.

Ridenour discussed safety concerns and that the biggest obstacle is getting from Harpers Ferry to Waterville and determining whether travel through YRSF is part of that or not, with travel on a busy highway or through a wildlife area involved between these points. Ridenour provided a recommendation to prioritize the ATV/UTV Club’s requests and work on these gradually as the ordinance is reviewed yearly.

Byrnes motioned to not move forward with changes to the ordinance and Schellhammer seconded. Koenig voted against the motion to not move forward with changes to the ordinance, with the motion being approved, 2-1.

Ridenour discussed quotes received for a new tandem axle truck chassis for the Secondary Roads Department. Ridenour indicated that quotes were received for 2021 models and that if ordered today, it would be delivered just prior to winter next year. Ridenour indicated that a majority of the County’s trucks are manual transmission and further discussed advantages and disadvantages between manual and automatic transmissions. Ridenour provided a recommendation to purchase a Western Star 4700 SF with automatic transmission from Truck Country of Decorah at $123,000, which was then approved by the Supervisors.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Cory Snitker discussed the weather forecast and the Emergency Management Conference that he attended last week, providing a summary of topics addressed by presenters. Snitker indicated that plans are being made for a three-day recovery workshop to take place in January.

Ridenour discussed work done at the County Farm relating to blading the lane and that work relating to transmission lines is on hold until corn is harvested by the renter. Ridenour also provided an update on the Dorchester Drive asphalt application and that sand hauling will continue for another three to four weeks before being fully stockpiled. Ridenour provided an update on a snowmobile crossing and that an equipment operator/maintenance position has been advertised and is open until November 15.

Payroll Deputy Janel Eglseder discussed that the Allamakee County Auditor’s Office is busy with the combined city and school elections. Prior to Adjournment, the Supervisors moved into Closed Session pursuant to Iowa Code 21.5(1)(c) regarding pending litigation.

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