Setting the direction for this year's road construction projects, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors instructed county engineer Joel Fantz to move ahead with the Rodman area road project on County Road B55. This decision was made during the Board of Supervisors meeting on April 22.
Before the supervisors made their decision, they reviewed bonding opportunities available to the county. Originally the plan was to bond $3.5 million for the final increment of the North/South bypasses as well as the Silver Lake Byway project. During previous meetings, there had been discussions about the possibilities of bonding for an additional $1.5 million, which could be used as seed money for additional road construction projects in the county. One of the projects under consideration was a stretch of payment from Ruthven to Graettinger.
Fantz laid out for the supervisors the impact to the bond repayment plan. By bonding for $5 million, the larger bond will likely have a 10 11 year payback. The interest rate on the bond of that size is expected to be 2.95 percent and the tax levy rate would be $1.51/thousand dollar valuation.
Supervisor Ed Noonan asked if it would be possible to pay for the entire Rodman project should they decide to bond for $5 million. "Could we do go from Rodman, west?," he asked.
According to information shared at the Rodman project public hearing, the section of B55 west of Rodman includes five miles of pavement that has been designated by the secondary road department as being a high cost road to maintain due to heavy truck traffic.
Fantz told the supervisors it would be possible to bid the project with options. "By bidding it all together, we can expect aggressive bids," Fantz said.
He added that doing both ends of the Rodman road will push the Ruthven project back.
At the end of the discussion, the supervisors approved moving ahead with a project that will include completing the portion of B55 from Rodman east as planned in the county's construction program. In addition, the supervisors approved placing the west 5 miles of B55's Right Of Way into an urban renewal area and using the additional $1.5 million bonded for the west portion's construction.
In other business, landowner Rick Elbert petitioned the supervisors for a repair project in Drainage District 98 Sub 1 open ditch. According to Elbert, the bottom of the ditch is becoming full of silt. Fantz told the supervisors the repair was a good candidate for the use of a long stick excavator. There are no trees in the ditch and the repair could proceed quickly.
In a related matter, the supervisors approved extending the Long Stick contract with Valley Contracting by mutual agreement.
According to Fantz, the secondary road department will begin their summer hours of 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Monday, April 28.
In other county business, the supervisors approved the Sheriff's quarterly report and received an update from Maureen Sandberg, Central Point Coordinator. Sandberg reported the consumer applications for the region continue to arrive and she hopes to be done with that process by the end of May. She also told the supervisors she understands the state legislators will be pushing the clawback for another year.
Mark Gaalswyk of Easy Energy Systems updated the supervisors on their development of a test facility to explore converting feed stocks into energy. According to Gaalswyk, they are engaged in a five year plan to produce butanol, which he says is a drop in replacement for gasoline. He shared with the supervisors the company's plan for expansion at its Emmetsburg plant.
"As you start reading about butanol, right here is where it is happening," said Gaalswyk.