Supervisors give approval to Freedom Rock placement, pending a final decision

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, June 22 to address a full agenda of items including allowing the placement of the Freedom Rock near the County Museum, Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) agreements for County Bridge Funding and COVID-19 related matters.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) discussed supplying Driftless Byway maps to various locations during recent in-person visits. Reinke indicated that tourism related information requests relating to cabins, kayaking, among other tourism related requests continue with 150 mailings being sent in response recently. Reinke provided an overview of several upcoming and ongoing events within the county with restaurant/shopping maps being made available at several events including Waukon’s Music in the Park concerts each Thursday.

Director Ardie Kuhse of Waukon Economic Development (WEDC) discussed the Allamakee County Dairy Days Parade as being a successful event that took place in Waukon Monday, June 15.

The Supervisors moved into the discussion and consideration of placing the Freedom Rock near the Allamakee County Courthouse Museum. Harvey Estebo of Waukon provided some background relating to the proposed placement of a Freedom Rock, a veterans memorial rock painted by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, in the Waukon City Park. Estebo indicated that there is support from the membership of the local American Legion and VFW posts to place the Freedom Rock in an alternate location in front of the Vet’s Club, which the Allamakee County Historical Society will soon be converting into a military museum.

Board Chairperson Larry Schellhammer and Supervisor Dan Byrnes indicated that the Supervisors can offer permission if the site at the museum is chosen. WEDC Director Kuhse provided an overview of the Freedom Rock’s planning and application process dating back to 2016. Kuhse advised of the decision to choose Waukon for the Freedom Rock location due to it being centrally located within the county and being the county seat. Kuhse indicated that the Waukon City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission both provided permission to move forward with the project, which is classified as an art project and tourism project on a statewide level as part of the 99-County Freedom Rock Tour.

Kuhse advised that Sorensen does request input from veterans groups for background in developing the painting’s subject matter but does not work directly with veterans groups. In viewing this as an art project, Kuhse indicated that Sorensen does not intend to replace or take away from existing veterans monuments or memorials. Kuhse discussed the contract in place with the artist and the importance of following through with that agreement with Allamakee County potentially losing an opportunity to have a Freedom Rock if the contract is not adhered to.

Estebo added that it may be time to change plans with the Vet’s Club transition into a museum and that he hopes Sorensen will work with the veterans organizations. Supervisor Dennis Koenig addressed the controversy surrounding the project and discussed Kuhse’s support of veterans’ organizations and family connections that have served in the military. Koenig also advised of the need to work together on this project. The Supervisors approved to allow the placement of the Freedom Rock at the former Vet’s Club property if that location is chosen.

The Supervisors reviewed and approved Business Property Tax Credits (BPTC) as presented. The Supervisors individually reviewed and approved the Personally Identifiable Information Policy and the Fraud Reporting Policy. The liquor license renewal for the Sportsmans Club in Rossville was approved.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour briefly discussed Secondary Road transfers with no action being taken and the matter to be addressed at a later time. Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick indicated that Jailer/Dispatcher Amanda Winters has accepted another position and submitted her resignation. The Supervisors accepted the resignation, effective July 10.

Lisa Curtin with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) and Operations and Development Director Karli Schmelzer of Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) discussed potential office moves for the County Relief Office and UERPC and NEICAC. Schmelzer advised that the monthly cost for internet access in the Relief Office space would be cost prohibitive for NEICAC and that this staff member likely needs to have space at the main office in Decorah instead. Curtin indicated that office space may need to be utilized for appointments at the Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Waukon Center with the Relief Office space not being an option. No action was taken.

The Supervisors approved setting August 31 as the meeting date and visit at the New Albin Public Library. The original date of June 15 was postponed due to COVID-19 precautions and a request to delay the visit until completion of the City’s splash pad project.

Ridenour provided an overview of Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) agreements for County Bridge Funding relating to the bridge at Smithfield Drive over Yellow River at an estimated cost of $710,000 and the bridge at Livingood Springs Road over Yellow River at an estimated cost of $610,000. Ridenour provided an overview of state aid available for these projects. The Supervisors approved the IDOT agreements.

Under COVID-19 related matters, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed working with long-term care facilities in developing three phases leading to reopening to the public. Snitker discussed planning relating to a variety of events and ordering of personal protective equipment (PPE) in preparation for a possible second wave of COVID-19 this fall.

Under Department Head Updates, John Roe, head of maintenance at the County Courthouse, discussed a parking lot drainage issue and roof leak with the Supervisors recommending that a contractor evaluate options available. Beyer discussed work associated with the end of the fiscal-year.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake discussed advertising board vacancies and provided an overview of several ongoing projects. Prior to Adjournment, Koenig provided an update related to County Social Services (CSS) and the potential impact of proposed legislation.
 

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