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Reader: Where Is The Problem?

January 29, 2015
Emmetsburg News

To the Editor:

Where Is The Problem?

In late 1999, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, of which I was a member, hired a young, recently retired veteran of the United States Navy who wanted to return home to Northwest Iowa. Joel Fantz came to us as a highly-qualified professional engineer and we felt we were fortunate as a county to obtain such a well-rounded individual and his young family in our community.

Joel came into our Engineer's Office and Secondary Roads Departments and made changes that gradually improved both the professionalism and service of both departments. Financial health for the departments also improved in the changes Joel made, which improved the overall atmosphere.

With the change of three board members, the atmosphere began to change to one whereas departments were placed under a magnifying glass by the Board. The Board would try to micromanage department heads and office holders in the daily operations of their offices, all in the name of "saving money for the taxpayers" and creating distrust between departments and the Board. I witnessed the abuse of power or personal agendas by some of the Board members. It seems to me certain board members want to run the show while claiming to have the best interests of the taxpayers at heart. The reality is, those actions aren't in the best interest of the county.

With all the press lately about the poor condition of bridges in the nation and calls for more inspections, who will inspect Palo Alto County's bridges for safety? Joel Fantz was certified to do those inspections, and did so as a part of his duties as County Engineer. Now without an engineer, will the county have to hire an outside company to do this? At more expense to the taxpayers?

It is a tough job to be a county engineer. You face problems with drainage tiles, muddy roads, driveways, culverts, you name it. No matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone, let alone five supervisors. And when you add in micromanagement and questioning of your engineering decisions, the job gets even tougher. With an atmosphere like this in place, it doesn't seem like Palo Alto County will be a very attractive job for an engineer.

My question is, was the problem really our engineer, or was it the people who think they are more knowledgeable than a certified professional engineer about building and maintaining roads and managing finances to allow for building new roads and repairing our crumbling old roads?

I wonder, is this an abuse of power?

Past Palo Alto County Board Member

(signed) Leo Goeders

Emmetsburg, IA

 
 
 

 

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