Supervisors hear RAGBRAI review, discuss pair of proposed swine facilities, approve hiring of new Victim-Witness Coordinator

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, July 31 to address a full agenda of items, including a First Reading of an Ordinance to establish a Pioneer Cemetery Commission, Consideration of a new hire for the Victim-Witness Coordinator position and a Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) recap.

Chairperson Larry Schellhammer called the meeting to order with the current agenda and the meeting minutes of July 24 being approved. Supervisor Dan Byrnes was present with Supervisor Dennis Koenig not in attendance due to a scheduled absence. The Supervisors moved into Public Comment with discussion of RAGBRAI in Allamakee County.

The First Reading for Ordinance LVII regarding the establishment of a Pioneer Cemetery Commission was approved without any written or verbal comments. The Supervisors decided to take no action on the next three agenda items relating to the Pioneer Cemetery Commission, including the Second and Third Reading for Ordinance LVII, the adoption of the ordinance and setting a date and time for a Fiscal-Year 2018 budget amendment.

The Supervisors moved into the Consideration of the approval or disapproval of a Construction Permit Application for EB Ag, LLP. Brad Herman, representing EB Ag, LLP, discussed the depth and placement of a well in relation to the swine facility. Information regarding the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Master Matrix scoring was not included with the construction permit. The Supervisors discussed that the omission was not by EB Ag, which has provided its own Master Matrix self-evaluation, but rather at the County level. The agenda item was tabled for discussion later in the meeting, with the Supervisors deciding at the end of the meeting to set a special session for Thursday, August 3 at 9 a.m. to review the permit application for approval, allowing time for the DNR Master Matrix scoring to be submitted.

Manure Management Plans for Long View Ridge, Gruber Ridge, Millerway, and Wayne and Shelly Farm (Weber) were accepted and placed on file.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of a new hire for the Victim-Witness Coordinator position. Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler provided a recommendation to hire Aleesa Baakko of Decorah at a salary $31,771.00 with an August 1 start date. Baakko discussed her qualifications and professional experience including her work with the Peace and Justice Center in Decorah and that her ability to speak Spanish was an asset in that position and will benefit her work as a Victim-Witness Coordinator. Baakko discussed her four years of active duty in the Navy and that she has continued to serve in the Reserves for the past three years. Baakko discussed training she received in her military career relating to domestic violence and sexual abuse. The Supervisors approved the hiring of Baakko for the Victim-Witness Coordinator position.

Kistler provided information regarding a special prosecution request indicating that a legal matter involves a juvenile case where her office has a conflict due to the fact that the Assistant County Attorney is a victim in the case. Kistler requested transfer of the case to the Winneshiek County Attorney and the Supervisors approved.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour provided information regarding the next agenda item involving the Consideration of a Bridge Embargo Resolution. Ridenour presented an updated list of bridges with calculations for load ratings and discussed that the embargo pertains to special haul vehicles, with the Supervisors approving the Bridge Embargo Resolution.

Ridenour discussed that the next two agenda items, the Consideration of Special Weight Exemption Permits and the Consideration of a Driveway Entrance Permit on Forest Mills Road (X16), both relate to each other and involve the proposed swine facility to be owned by Jason and Jill Martins on a 20-acre parcel on Forest Mills Road, north of Luana. Jason Martins discussed that he is planning to construct a 2,480-head ween-to-finish barn handling pigs that are 12 pounds to market size, with a majority of hauling to take place outside the road embargo period.

Ridenour indicated that two entrances exist to the property and that a new entrance has been requested to better serve the facility. Ridenour explained the spring embargo weight limits and discussed that special permits can be issued by local authorities for the purposes of farm produce due to rapid spoilage, farm feeds and fuel, although this has not been commonplace in Allamakee County. The Supervisors were in agreement that special weight exemption permits would not be issued. Ridenour indicated that he would issue the driveway entrance permit.

Executive Director Val Reinke with Allamakee County Economic Development provided a RAGBRAI recap report indicating that she has received positive reports from the communities involved in Allamakee County and also from representatives of RAGBRAI. Reinke discussed that RAGBRAI was a great public relations event to introduce Allamakee County and to give riders a reason to come back. Reinke discussed the quick clean-up of Waukon following the RAGBRAI overnight stop and that area businesses and libraries saw heavy traffic during RAGBRAI. Schellhammer indicated that he wishes to thank everyone involved with RAGBRAI and that it was a great opportunity for local communities to showcase themselves, which they did at a top-level with nothing but positive comments coming from riders.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed the paving progress near Breezy Corners with concrete being poured, and that Union jobs have been posted and will be advertised. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed that she is finishing up verifications for taxes. The next regular session of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, August 7 at the Ethel Robinson Meehan Community Center and Dolores Tillinghast Memorial Library in Harpers Ferry.

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