Allamakee County Board of Supervisors holds regular session at Robey Memorial Library, tours Reel Core manufacturing plant

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors toured the Reel Core manufacturing facility in Waukon as part of its November 6 regular session which began at Robey Memorial Library in Waukon. Pictured above, left to right, Reel Core Plant Manager Lenny Bulman describes the operation of the plant and the products manufactured there to Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Coordinator Ardie Kuhse, Board of Supervisors Chairperson Larry Schellhammer, Supervisor Dennis Koenig, Janel Egleseder (partially hidden) of the Allamakee County Auditor's Office and Supervisor Dan Byrnes. Standard photo by Joe Moses.

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, November 6 to address a full agenda of items, including an update of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission's (UERPC) activities, an update from the Robey Memorial Library in Waukon and a tour of the Reel Core manufacturing facility in Waukon.

The meeting was held at Robey Memorial Library in Waukon, the final library visited within Allamakee County during 2017. During Public Comment, Coordinator Ardie Kuhse with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) discussed that the recent forum for the Waukon Mayor and City Council candidates was well attended.

Supervisor Dan Byrnes discussed that the winter months may provide an opportunity for the Supervisors to visit businesses within Waukon, with the warmer months being used to visit libraries and businesses countywide. Library Director Cate St. Clair of Robey Memorial Library and Conservation Director Jim Janett with Allamakee County Conservation discussed the importance of after school programming at the library, mentioning After School with Ross, conducted by Allamakee County Conservation's Naturalist Ross Geerdes.

Executive Director Rachelle Howe with UERPC provided an update on the UERPC's activities. Howe discussed recent workforce, transportation and housing studies and the partnership with Allamakee County Economic Development, which has resulted in UERPC being the employer of record for the Executive Director of Allamakee County Economic Development. Howe discussed that two water and sewer CDBG grants are ongoing for Postville and that UERPC will be writing a grant for New Albin regarding a possible water and sewer treatment plant.

Howe also talked about the Youth Career Connect Grant that benefits high school juniors and seniors through career readiness, assisting teachers and involving employers. Howe also discussed UERPC's involvement with the Section 8 housing and rental assistance program.

The Supervisors approved the liquor license renewal for Wings in Dorchester. Kuhse discussed potential future visits to Waukon area businesses and industries and that she will be compiling a list of potential visits.

St. Clair provided an update on Robey Memorial Library and information that has been compiled to complete the Iowa Public Library General Information Survey, a yearly State requirement. St. Clair indicated that the library has 25,710 books, 1,500 audio books and 1,700 movies, and access through the State Library to 33,000 e-books and audio books. St. Clair discussed that the library has had 32,785 physical checkouts last year with 3,300 e-book checkouts, which can be done from home, pushing the library's statistics close to 40,000 checkouts overall.

St. Clair explained that library programming has continued to grow, with 90 children's programs last year with 1,600 adult and children attendees, 23 teen programs and 185 programs for adults for a total of 298 programs for the year. St. Clair shared that the library's meeting room was used by 2,166 people for various political meetings, baby showers and birthday celebrations, and that the library's eight public internet computers had 5,367 individual uses in addition to the wi-fi wireless internet users.

St. Clair discussed the library's budget and crucial funding from the City and County. Story Time was also discussed, with board chairman Larry Schellhammer expressing interest in being a guest reader.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed the purchase of three or four automated external defibrillators (AED) for County buildings, including the Driftless Education and Visitors Center and the Public Safety Center jail facility, among other County buildings. Snitker also advised of the fire exercise conducted at the Good Samaritan Society location in Postville, with all four care centers in the county having completed this exercise.

Snitker then discussed the recent Northeast Iowa Response Group meeting and discussion that took place regarding budgeting and expenses related to meth lab clean-up. Schellhammer also mentioned live shooter drills, which Snitker indicated would be coordinated by the Sheriff's Department.

Janett discussed the district meeting to take place December 13, which will be hosted in Allamakee County and involve 45-50 attendees from 16 counties. Janett presented potential logo designs for the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center, with the Supervisors providing feedback on the designs.

Clerk Janel Eglseder provided an update for the County Auditor's office, including that November 9 at 1 p.m. is scheduled for the canvass of the Waukon City election. The Supervisors discussed moving the canvass to a later time November 9 or November 10, which will be discussed with County Auditor Denise Beyer.

The Supervisors meeting then traveled to the Reel Core manufacturing facility in Waukon for a tour provided by General Manager Lenny Bulman. The tour began with a presentation from Bulman discussing the company's history, with the plant opening in 1993 and the company's main product being plastic three-piece shipping reels that are manufactured at Reel Core for other companies nationally and internationally. Bulman explained that this type of reel is used in other industries for storing industrial hoses, fiber optic cable and rope.

Bulman also provided information about the 125,000 square foot plant which employs approximately 90 employees, has 350 different customers, with 30% of the company's sales outside of the United States. Bulman indicated that the company is locally owned, with all employees living within a 20-mile radius of Waukon. Following the presentation, Bulman provided a tour of the facility with an overview of the blow molding manufacturing process utilized in the facility's production.

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