Supervisors discuss joining multi-county legislation against opioid manufacturers, location of new communications tower

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, December 4 to address a full agenda of items including the approval of a pay request for signage at the Public Safety Center, consideration of joining other counties in litigation against opioid manufacturers and approval of the Homestead Credit and Military Exemption for 2017 property taxes.

Chairperson Larry Schellhammer called the meeting to order and the current agenda and meeting minutes of November 27 were approved. There was no Public Comment.

The Supervisors reviewed the Manure Management Plan for Grove 5 from Adam Grove, which was accepted and placed on file.

The Supervisors discussed the pay request from Midwest Construction Consultants for the Public Safety Center. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that $2,859.00 has been requested for a four-foot by six-foot aluminum sign from Signs and Designs of Mount Pleasant. Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed that holes will be dug this week for the signage and that wiring is in place for the signage. The Supervisors approved the pay request, indicating that $9,200.24 currently remains in the contingency fund for the Public Safety Center project.

The Supervisors moved into the discussion of joining other counties in support of litigation against opioid manufacturers. The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) has contacted the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors requesting the board's support of litigation that holds pharmaceutical firms responsible for damages to the public in misrepresenting the safety of using opioids and that Iowa counties may present a unified front and coordinated effort at the federal level in this matter. Beyer presented a sample resolution which indicated that law firms would be compensated on a contingent fee basis only if the County were to receive financial benefits from the litigation.

Mellick explained that monetary damages to the County would be difficult to determine but opioid-related arrests, court cases and home invasions where prescription medications were stolen could be factored into this matter. Schellhammer and Supervisors Dan Byrnes and Dennis Koenig discussed some of the complexities of this issue on the local and national level with the illegal use and production of non-prescription opioids - heroin as an example, and the sale and usage of opioids that were originally prescribed legally and illegally resold by individuals.

Coordinator Jean Bossom with Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) provided feedback concerning prevention and education efforts, commenting that she would like to learn more about this litigation, which is in its early stage. Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler discussed feedback that she has received from other counties with some approving to be included in the litigation, some opting not to pursue the matter and others still requiring further discussion and additional information. Kistler indicated that it is too early for her to make a recommendation and that Sioux County has approved to participate in the litigation and Mitchell County is likely to participate, with Dallas County, Plymouth County, Pocahontas County and Clay County still considering the matter. Kistler indicated that Osceola County, Palo Alto County and Winneshiek County have opted to not participate in the litigation. The

Supervisors agreed to table the matter for further discussion at the December 18 Supervisors meeting.

The Supervisors tabled setting a time and date for the Public Hearing for the Fiscal-Year 2018 Budget Amendment. Beyer also presented a list of Homestead Credit and Military Exemption property taxes for 2017 Payable Fiscal-Year 2019. The list was reviewed and approved by the Supervisors.

Under Department Head Updates, Mellick discussed a recent meeting with representatives of Alliant Energy and that four potential sites for a new communications tower were discussed. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed advantages of the Public Safety Center location from a security perspective for the potential communications tower and in the use of the main generator near that facility. Ridenour indicated that the other proposed locations are more than acceptable if there are concerns relating to structural integrity or line of sight near the facility.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake discussed the construction phase would require two acres and following that, an acre or less for the tower and that a conditional use permit is required for this project.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed that he will provide a briefing on the Hazard Mitigation Plan for the county at the December 18 Supervisors meeting and that adoption of the plan has been added to the January 8 Supervisors meeting agenda. Snitker indicated that he is also moving forward with the purchase of three automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the Driftless Education and Visitors Center, the jail portion of the Public Safety Center and the County Engineer's office.

Blake further discussed that flood plain development regulations will need to be updated to meet requirements of FEMA. Ridenour advised that the county-line bridge replacement on Ferris Mill Road is now open to the public and that watershed repairs have been completed. Ridenour discussed recent recommendations and communications from ISAC regarding priorities for Secondary Roads and the use of TIME-21 funds.

Ridenour also briefly mentioned the Gold Award received by Allamakee County from the American Concrete Paving Association for the Green Valley Road overlay project. He indicated that he will provide more information on the award at a future meeting following receipt of the award, which is mailed.

Beyer discussed the run-off election taking place December 5 for Waukon Mayor and that voting equipment will be transported to the Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Waukon site. Beyer estimated that 100 absentee votes have been received so far.

Before adjourning the meeting, Ridenour and the Supervisors visited a potential site for a communications tower near the Public Safety Center facility.

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