Supervisors hear funding requests, approve second round of facade grant funding, discuss dry hydrant

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session twice within a week’s time Tuesday, January 17 and Monday, January 23 following the Monday, January 16 closure of the Allamakee County Courthouse for the observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Coverage of both meetings follows.
The Tuesday, January 17 Supervisors meeting was called to order by Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley also in attendance. During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) noted that the Allamakee County Community Foundation’s (ACCF) grant program and application process has begun for the year, with Reinke adding that some initial work has taken place by a group that will be applying for this grant funding. Reinke also provided a brief overview of an upcoming Allamakee County Planning and Zoning meeting and some topics that will likely be discussed at that meeting.

The Supervisors moved into the Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation (NEICAC) program information and Fiscal-Year 2024 (FY24) funding request. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Trisha Wilkins provided an overview of NEICAC’s history and services provided within a seven-county area in northeast Iowa including Allamakee, Bremer, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties.

Wilkins noted that some updates are taking place relating to the organization’s logo and messaging to create greater awareness of the variety of programs offered by NEICAC. She added that many residents may associate or recognize NEICAC as specific programs like EARL Public Transit or Head Start/Early Head Start, with Wilkins further noting other programs benefiting this service area including Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), substance abuse and mental health services, Home Weatherization, among other programs.

Wilkins discussed specifics relating to the impact of NEICAC’s programs in Allamakee County. Byrnes noted the working relationship between the County Relief Office and NEICAC with both entities complementing each other in assistance and crisis funding to families and individuals in need within the county. No action was taken, with this funding request to be considered with other budget requests.

Executive Director Paul Berland of Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) discussed the next agenda item relating to RC&D’s FY24 funding request. Berland provided an overview of the organization’s activities relating to grant writing, community development, business development, tourism, flood reduction, watershed improvement practices, among other areas and needs. He noted that RC&D collaborates with other organizations and entities and that RC&D’s employees are funded through grants and fee-for-service work. Berland added that funding from the County is used for aspects of the RC&D’s operations not covered by grants including utilities.

Berland noted that the $72,000 contributed last year from the organization’s seven-county area yielded $1.8 million directly through RC&D for the region, a return on investment of $23 per each dollar of support, not counting funds and economic benefits from projects administered by RC&D, including the Upper Iowa Flood Reduction Project. In addition, Berland discussed several community development and tourism related projects and made a request in funding at the same level contributed last year. No action was taken, with this funding request to be considered with other budget requests.

The meeting moved into the review and consideration of the second round of the Allamakee County Facade Grant Program Awards with Executive Director Andy Kelleher of Main Street Lansing providing an overview of the matter. Kelleher noted that $7,163.88 is remaining following the first round of grant awards from the $50,000 allotted for this program. He advised that six applications were received for the second round of facade grant funding totaling $33,921.89 in requests for project budgets equaling $103,760.87. With six grant applications, just over $7,000 remaining and over $33,000 being requested, Kelleher advised that some difficult decisions were made by the Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) Board, which has recommended that one project be fully funded and another project be partially funded. Those recommendations include $5,000 for the Town Theater at 38 West Main Street in Waukon. Kelleher advised that Jonathan Earp’s application for this project has a budget of $32,100 and includes painting the marquee, tuckpointing limestone and the replacement of windows. Kelleher noted that the other project to be partially funded per the ACED Board’s recommendation is LDB Properties at 1 West Main Street in Waukon with an award of $2,163.88 recommended for facade improvements proposed by applicant Lyle Bodensteiner, including a new awning at a project budget of $17,781.50. The Supervisors approved the grant funding as recommended.

Kelleher also addressed the next matter relating to the Main Street Lansing FY24 funding request. He noted that Main Street Lansing’s request of $4,000 in support for FY24 is the same as the FY23 request. Kelleher provided an overview of Main Street Lansing’s accomplishments, goals and milestones reached, noting work performed in Main Street Lansing’s application for the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) to return to Lansing as an end-town in 2022. Kelleher noted that RAGBRAI XLIX generated $115,000 in profit that was distributed to several non-profits in the county and that RAGBRAI has provided an estimate of nearly $1.5 million in economic impact for Lansing in 2022. Kelleher also noted the $50,000 T-Mobile Hometown Grant which was secured to renovate the Main Street Plaza in downtown Lansing, the creation of the Allamakee County Facade Grant Program, that a record-breaking $362,500 of holiday spending was recorded through the Main Street Madness punch card promotion, among other accomplishments listed in Main Street Lansing’s Annual Report. No action was taken, with this funding request to be considered by the Supervisors with other budget requests.

The meeting moved into the discussion and consideration of a proposed dry hydrant for fire department use at the County Park in Volney. Jordan Bacon of the Luana Fire Department discussed a recommendation to add a dry hydrant, a permanent unpressurized installed pipe allowing for water to be pumped from a body of water, in this area to aid fire departments responding to locations in the vicinity of the County Park in Volney. Bacon noted that it can be difficult to keep up with water supply demands with the delays associated with hauling water to this area being a contributing factor, noting that there were two fires in this area within the last year. Bacon suggested that the Secondary Road Department could provide assistance with the excavation necessary to install the dry hydrant, and that he would be able to assist with snow removal to allow winter access. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour presented a map illustrating the fire districts and discussed the distance traveled by the Monona and Luana Fire Departments in responding to this area. Allamakee County Conservation Director Jim Janett discussed the maintenance of dry hydrants and his recommendation to meet with the Monona Fire Department for further discussion. Janett and Byrnes noted that this matter will need to go before the Conservation Board, with Bacon indicating that he will follow up with the Monona Fire Department to advise that they will need to be added to the next Conservation Board meeting agenda.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick addressed the next agenda item relating to the discussion and consideration of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the County Sheriff’s office, Teamsters Union #238 and Jarrod Olson. Mellick discussed the hiring of Olson as a Deputy Sheriff and his transfer from County Conservation, a department not under Union contract. Mellick noted that Attorney John Anderson drafted the MOU, with the Teamsters Union agreeing to these terms. Mellick further noted that per the MOU, Olson’s seniority will be based on his December 25, 2022 start date with the County Sheriff’s Department. Mellick noted that Olson’s entitlement to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will be based on working 12 months and at least 1,250 hours for the Sheriff’s Department. Mellick further noted that Olson will be allowed to carry over his sick leave from his previous position with County Conservation and that four weeks of vacation time will be carried over with this being viewed as a transfer and not a lapse. The Supervisors approved the MOU.

The Quarterly Reports for Planning & Zoning and the Relief Office were accepted and placed on file. The Manure Management Plan update for Scott Sanness was accepted and placed on file.

The meeting moved into the consideration of the approval and signing of the 2022 Allamakee County Historical Preservation Commission Annual Report. The Supervisors reviewed the report with Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer noting some of the specifics and activities of this commission last year. Following review, the Supervisors approved the annual report.

The Supervisors addressed the next matter relating to the consideration of the Resolution to obligate ARPA funds to the Historical Society Genealogy Lab remodel. Following discussion, the Supervisors approved to obligate ARPA funds in the amount not to exceed $40,000 for this project.

Under Department Head Updates, Mellick discussed the weather forecast, the well/water system project at the Public Safety Center and generator maintenance at the Public Safety Center. Beyer discussed ongoing work in the County Auditor’s office and upcoming budget related meetings.

Ridenour discussed the weather forecast and snowfall projections with the Secondary Road Department gearing up for clearing snow from roads. He noted that he expects to have a recommendation for a hire at the next Supervisors meeting. Ridenour noted that he has received questions relating to the All Systems Overweight Permit which he advised allows overweight loads on State roads and other specified roads only. He noted that Allamakee County has not chosen to be part of this program, which began at the State level January 1. (Editor’s Note: More information can be found on the Iowa DOT website at

The Monday, January 23 regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors was called to order by Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Dennis Keatley and Mark Reiser in attendance. There was no Public Comment during the 10 minutes allotted for that agenda item.

The meeting moved into the Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Watershed Project Fiscal-Year 2024 (FY24) funding request with Business Development Projects Director Josh Dansdill providing an overview of the matter. Dansdill noted that the Watershed Project is a coordinated watershed sampling project performed in Howard, Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties with samples taken by the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), City of Decorah, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and RC&D. Dansdill added that the funding request for Fiscal Year FY24 will assist with lab testing costs with those samples sent to Coe College in Cedar Rapids for analysis. Dansdill advised that the results have been compiled since 1998, the start of the project, and are available online for individuals and organizations. Dansdill discussed that this information has been used by many organizations, entities and individuals for various projects and research, with water sampling taking place the second Tuesday of the month April through October involving 32 sites and focusing on 28 sub-watersheds on the Upper Iowa River. Byrnes noted that this funding request will be considered with other budget requests. No action was taken.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Stephanie Runkle addressed the next matter relating to the discussion and consideration of the Resolution for the Zoning Fee Schedule. Runkle noted that the Planning and Zoning Commission has reviewed the matter and recommended this change. Following review, the Supervisors approved the Resolution for the Zoning Fee Schedule.

Runkle also provided an overview of three plat requests including Gavin Family Farms, LLC, James P. & Sara L. Ronan, and Mark E. & Kristina L. Walleser. The three plat requests were individually reviewed and approved by the Supervisors. Quarterly Reports for the County Sheriff and Veterans Affairs were accepted and placed on file.

The meeting moved into the consideration of the Resolution to obligate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the retaining wall at the Allamakee County Veterans Museum, the former Vet’s Club location in Waukon. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer noted that this project had been previously discussed not to exceed $5,820, with the Supervisors in agreement to proceed but that an official vote had not taken place relating to this matter. The Supervisors approved the Resolution obligating ARPA funds for the retaining wall.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed the next matter relating to the consideration of hiring for the Secondary Road Department. Ridenour noted that this recommendation relates to a vacancy at the Waukon Shop following a resignation. He provided a recommendation to hire Joseph Lloyd of Waukon as Maintenance Person II at $21.69 per hour with a start date of Tuesday, January 24, with that recommendation then being approved by the Supervisors.

Ridenour also addressed the next matter relating to the consideration of the final payment voucher for the Cota Creek Bridge on Lansing Harpers Road. He noted that this bridge replacement project was bundled with another bridge project in Bremer County to allow for Federal aid to take place with each county being responsible for their respective bridge project. Ridenour explained that this 110-feet by 30-feet concrete slab bridge is complete at an actual cost of $697,572.99, which is below the contracted cost of $700,452.45. Ridenour noted that the final payment voucher will next be submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) for payment to be made. The Supervisors approved the final payment voucher for this project.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour advised that there is an open position for an equipment operator out of Waterville, with that vacancy to be advertised. Ridenour also discussed the February 6 10 a.m. letting date for the English Bench Site #9 Watershed Project and that there has been some interest with plans going out to contractors requesting information. He also noted that the Secondary Road Department was out on the pavements for a short time Sunday, January 22 due to some freezing drizzle and slippery road conditions.

Beyer discussed ongoing budget work and that training is going well with two new staff members in the Auditor’s office. Beyer noted that a Leased Asset Policy will need to be approved to meet Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) requirements. She added that Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke will review this proposed policy, which will be included on the next Supervisors meeting agenda. Beyer also noted upcoming Fiscal Year FY24 budget work sessions.