Supervisors hear reviews of RAGBRAI® from countywide and several city perspectives

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, August 14 to address a full agenda of items, including the Third Reading of an Ordinance to establish a Pioneer Cemetery Commission, Consideration of Green Valley Bridge funding and the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI®) follow-up reports for Allamakee County, Waukon, Waterville, Postville and Lansing.

Chairperson Larry Schellhammer called the meeting to order. The Supervisors moved into Public Comments, with Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development discussing the attendance at the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center over the weekend with Fish Days in Lansing.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed the use of the Allamakee County Courthouse as an emergency shelter. Snitker explained that it is his understanding that the courthouse is still the designated emergency shelter for the trailer courts and that either it can continue to be the designated shelter or he can speak with the Waukon City Council about an alternative.

Supervisor Dan Byrnes advised that the Waukon Police Department could be issued key fobs allowing them to have 24/7 access beyond the regular courthouse hours in case of emergency shelter needs. Snitker discussed some alternatives for emergency shelters due to the windows and glass doors in the courthouse and the trailer court locations not being close to the courthouse. The Supervisors agreed that key fobs would be supplied to the Waukon Police Department.

The Third Reading for Ordinance LVII to establish a Pioneer Cemetery Commission was approved without any written or verbal comments and adopted. September 11, 2017 at 9:40 a.m. was set as the date and time for the Fiscal-Year 2018 budget amendment.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of signing a letter of recommendation for Midwest Construction Consultants, the company involved in the construction of the Allamakee County Public Safety Center. Schellhammer explained that a request was made by John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants for a letter of recommendation to be signed by the Supervisors indicating their satisfaction with work completed. The Supervisors approved and a letter will be signed.

The Supervisors discussed the County Farm contract and bid letting date indicating that the three-year contract was ending. The Supervisors approved that a letter of termination would be sent to the current renter and that a modified bid notice would be issued with updates to include a conservation lease agreement.

The Quarterly Report from the Veterans Services office was accepted and placed on file. The next Department Head meeting was scheduled for August 28 at 1 p.m.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed the Green Valley Bridge funding by explaining that 80% of the funding is through the State, with the remainder divided between the County and City of Waukon. Ridenour indicated that the City has approved to move forward with a design developed by Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering. Ridenour described the replacement bridge design as an arch design that is wider and longer, allowing for pedestrian use. The Supervisors approved the motion to pursue the $500,000 in State funding and to proceed with the project. Ridenour advised that the City of Waukon and Allamakee County each will contribute 10% to this project and that both will need to approve that arrangement before construction.

The Supervisors moved into the RAGBRAI follow-up reports from Allamakee County, Waukon, Waterville, Postville and Lansing. Postville City Clerk Darcy Radloff  discussed that four University of Iowa marketing students handled social media, photography and games for riders in Postville as a project. Radloff explained that making riders feel welcome was a goal and that children of different cultures held banners and rang bells to greet riders traveling into town. Radloff discussed the positive financials, with vendors, the Fire Department and churches doing well, and that injuries were few with only one case of a rider having heat exhaustion and a vendor with a knee injury.

Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) discussed that approximately $150,000 in revenue was raised from RAGBRAI in Waukon through fundraising, vendor fees and t-shirt and other fundraising sales. Kuhse indicated that the financials are positive but there are still bills to be paid, with the bottom line yet to be determined. Kuhse discussed that having Hairball perform assisted in the amount of revenue brought in, and she also said that 500-600 volunteers helped make the event a success and that the clean-up process went smoothly with riders and support crew picking up after themselves and help from volunteers allowing riders to leave on Main Street Saturday morning with the concert area completely cleaned prior to 5 a.m. Kuhse discussed the positive financial impact of the overnight stop in Waukon and the support crew traffic Saturday as they traveled south from Lansing through Waukon, which Kuhse described as being two-fold for restaurants and possibly made up for losses in gas sales during the event's street closures.

Waterville Mayor Dave Monserud discussed that initially there were issues relating to the size of Waterville and funding, but through the use of RAGBRAI's handbook the City was able to gain enough start-up money through t-shirt sales and fundraising. Monserud discussed that the Fire Department, ambulance service, churches and businesses worked together with five vendors and over 200 volunteers, in a town of 140 residents, to make this event a success, with the Allamakee County ATV/UTV Club assisting in shuttling riders around town as needed.

Reinke discussed that from the County perspective, RAGBRAI went well with just a few negative comments from vendors regarding vendor fees. Reinke discussed that Backpocket Brewing will have its $100 deposit refunded for both days.

Craig White, Executive Director of Main Street Lansing, advised that RAGBRAI has stated that Allamakee County is a model for handling the requirements, and has set the precedent, for how a county should handle an overnight and end stop. White indicated that Lansing businesses had a successful week with retail sales a little above average, with restaurants and pubs reporting two to three times their best sales and the Kee Athletic Booster Club selling 600 showers Saturday. White indicated that the financials were very positive and that they will be able to give back to the community in a substantial way.
White and Kuhse discussed the positive exposure in the Des Moines Register and that the county is seeing some people return following RAGBRAI or who are traveling here for the first time. Ridenour discussed the maintenance and construction that was accomplished before RAGBRAI and that loose gravel was addressed and swept back on to road shoulders.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed that gravel hauling has been completed, with a majority of the hauling by Bruening Rock Products. He also said that the Breezy Corners pavement project is tentatively open, with some minor work yet to be finished, and some patching is being done on the Great River Road south of the power plant. Ridenour discussed the Lansing bridge meeting, with a great turnout and interest from the public. He advised that employment ads for a technician and a maintenance person have been added to the newspaper.

Snitker discussed the good weather during RAGBRAI, with the planning in place making the event run smoothly. Snitker discussed Lansing Fish Days and the diabetes bike ride from La Crosse, WI, saying that both events were without incident. Snitker advised that hazard mitigation planning will continue with meetings in Harpers Ferry and Postville.

Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett estimated that 500 to 600 people visited the Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center during Lansing Fish Days weekend and discussed the coverage by regional newspapers. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer advised that property tax statements will be arriving in mail boxes this week and that with school and city elections coming up, ballots are expected to be arriving this week.

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