Supervisors hear concerns from residents, receive updates from department heads

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, February 24 to address a variety of agenda items including the Public Hearing for the County Fiscal-Year 2021 Maximum Levy/Tax Dollars, consideration of bridge and culvert plans and the purchase of a pavement pothole patching trailer.

During Public Comment, Doug Mullen of rural Lansing discussed concerns relating to the Alliant Energy power plant located near Lansing. Mullen said that he is confident that the power plant will close in the next year with the loss of tax revenue having a negative impact upon Lansing Fire and Rescue. Board of Supervisors Chairperson Larry Schellhammer added that a meeting recently took place with representatives of Alliant Energy, the school district and city government in attendance with Allamakee County Assessor Ann Burckart looking into the power plant central assessment and numbers associated with different scenarios. Schellhammer indicated that a future meeting is being planned to involve the school district and City of Lansing to discuss scenarios related to a potential power plant closure in 2021.

Schellhammer added that a permit will expire in 2021 relating to how the power plant handles a byproduct as a fluid or dry material. Mullen questioned whether or not this would be a public meeting with Schellhammer indicating that is yet to be determined.

Mullen also discussed concerns relating to chronic wasting disease (CWD) and indicated that at least four deer have died on his property and that he was unable to get someone from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to investigate these and other deer exhibiting symptoms. Mullen discussed that approximately 35% of CWD-positive deer are still being eaten and expressed his concerns with potential impact on humans. Mullen suggested that a DNR representative needs to provide an update to the public relating to this matter at a Board of Supervisors meeting or a public meeting.

Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) reported the Official Allamakee County Chili Cook-Off will be taking place Saturday, February 29 at TJ Hunter’s Banquet Hall in Lansing. Reinke said that she will be attending the Iowa Tourism Conference in Des Moines next week and that next Monday evening Northeast Iowa Tourism and ACED will have a booth at an upcoming legislative event within the county.

The Public Hearing on the County Fiscal-Year 2021 Maximum Levy/Tax Dollars was opened. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that no comments have been received and provided an overview of the matter. Beyer said that this is a new requirement providing for greater transparency in the budget process and was passed last year by the State Legislature. The public hearing was closed. The Resolution for the Fiscal-Year 2021 County Maximum Tax Dollars was approved. The Supervisors set Monday, March 23 at 9:40 a.m. for the Public Hearing for the Fiscal-Year 2021 County Budget.

The Supervisors moved into the review of Certificates of Adjustment with Burckart providing an overview of the matter relating to a couple land purchases by the DNR. The Certificates of Adjustment were approved by the Supervisors.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour addressed the next agenda item relating to bridge and culvert plans and setting a date for these projects. Ridenour presented three sets of plans for review at the meeting for budgeted and programmed projects. Ridenour indicated the three projects include a small bridge replacement on White Pine Road east of Waterville, another small bridge replacement on English Bench Road and a culvert replacement involving a twin eight-foot by six-foot by 32-foot reinforced pre-cast concrete box culvert on Portland Prairie Drive near the Iowa-Minnesota border. Ridenour provided a recommendation for a letting date of 10 a.m. March 30, which was approved by the Supervisors.

Ridenour also provided an overview of the next agenda item relating to the purchase of a pothole patching trailer. Ridenour said that the existing patching trailer, a 2003 Rosco RA2000, is no longer being made and there is no interest in the trailer as a trade-in by the two dealers that provided quotes. Ridenour suggested that the 2003 Rosco could be sold to a city. Ridenour discussed the quotes received for 2020 models including a Total Patcher Vortex from Hampton Equipment Inc. of Raymond, IL at $66,913 and a Cimline Durapatcher P2 from Star Equipment of Cedar Rapids at $75,020. Ridenour discussed positive feedback received relating to the Total Patcher Vortex and provided a recommendation to purchase this patcher as low quote with the Supervisors approving the purchase.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody and Zoning Administrator Tom Blake introduced new administrative assistant Mandy O’Neill, who will be working in both of their respective offices. Blake provided an update on the Zoning Commission meeting that was postponed and rescheduled for later in the day. Blake also discussed comprehensive planning and work sessions that will be scheduled.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick indicated that the refrigeration unit to be used for deceased individuals arrived last week and was delivered to Veterans Memorial Hospital, alleviating the problem of not having a county morgue. Mellick also discussed ongoing work by Culligan and the DNR relating to a flow meter necessary for the Public Safety Center’s water system.

Ridenour discussed that there are two job openings within the Secondary Roads Department that are being advertised including an Equipment Operator/MM II working out of the Dorchester Shop and a Truck Driver MMI working out of the Waterville Shop. Ridenour indicated that both job openings are the result of retirements.

Schellhammer and Ridenour discussed concerns raised by the Allamakee Sno-Blazers Club relating to snow being pushed onto a snowmobile trail by a rural landowner. Ridenour provided an update on matters relating to the County’s right-of-way, proposed electronic signage and Canadian Pacific Railroad’s potential need for a staging area, all south of the four-way intersection at Harpers Ferry.

Beyer provided an update on the MFL/MarMac School District special election to be held March 3 in Postville.

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