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Palo Alto County Supervisors Agree To Extend Embargo

By Staff | Apr 17, 2008

Palo Alto County Supervisors agreed with a recommendation by the county engineer to extend an embargo on a county road during their weekly session on April 15. The board also approved a bid for limestone rock for the county’s secondary road department use during the meeting.

County Engineer Joel Fantz reported to the board members that the temporary six-ton embargoes placed on four of the county’s roads in March and into April had expired, and for the most part, had accomplished what had been hoped for, allowing the frost to come out of the ground without causing excessive heaving and damage to the four roadways.

“The embargoes are now all off, along the timelines that we set when we put them into effect last month,” Fantz said, “but, in the interest of preserving the road we have out there, I would recommend that we put North Huron Street, or N48, from 320 to 360 Streets, back on a permanent embargo. We certainly don’t want to go out there and put a lot of money into repairs, only to have the road broken up again.”

“I’d agree with that,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger spoke up. “We do need to do something with that road because we certainly don’t want to wreck it.”

Fantz suggested staying with the six-ton restriction on the roadway and putting the embargo into effect, and urged the supervisors to drive the stretch of road to judge its condition for themselves.

“I’ve driven it and I agree, we need to do something with it,” commented Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

“I can put the embargo back on under the terms of the original embargo,” Fantz said, “or we can wait and do a new resolution.”

“Why don’t you just put it back in effect,” Hofstad suggested, with the board agreeing.

“Are you going to put this in the paper to let folks know?” asked board chair Leo Goeders.

Fantz stated he would call Kerber Milling and American Concrete to inform them of the embargo, as they were users of the road, and that the temporary signs would be placed until permanent signage could be erected.

In other Secondary Road Department information, Fantz presented the board with a bid from Martin Marietta Aggregates of Gilmore City for one-inch limestone road rock, at a price of $5,25 per ton. The county would handle the trucking of the rock from the Gilmore City quarry back to Palo Alto County.

Fantz explained that he had been in negotiations with Martin-Marietta officials for some length of time, and was unable to get the price that Pocahontas County pays for the same product, $4.90 per ton.

“Actually, the $5.25 a ton is not a bad price, considering that the normal county price is $5.80 per ton,” Fantz said. “It’s not the preferred price, but it’s not that bad a price, either.”

The limestone rock will be used in perennial soft spots around the county’s system of gravel roads to help firm them up, according to Fantz. “We’ve contracted for 20,000 tons, at a price of $263,000. It’s not great, but it’s a good price.”

“I think its great,” Supervisor Ed Noonan observed.

“So do I,” added Supervisor Keith Wirtz

With that, the bid was accepted and approved on a unanimous vote of the board.

In other business, Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg informed the board she had received the new contract from Seasons Center for Mental Health in Spencer for the 2009 Fiscal Year. “The contract is for the same amount as last year, $65,242, which is our catchments fee, and with our estimated fee of $11,500, our total costs will be $76,742 for FY2009.”

A discussion ensued over exactly what services were received for the fee, with Hofstad noting that the annual budget of the Seasons Center was $3.7 million.

“Most of our costs are actually going to keep the operation going,” Sandberg admitted, “but they are also paying for visits with the doctors, prescriptions and the like.”

“Salaries for the staff alone there are $200,000 a year,” Wirtz noted.

“Yes, but the people from our county that we are sending there are getting treatment, medications and such for that fee, too.”

Wirtz noted that Dickinson and Buena Vista counties had both notified Seasons that they were not going to sign the new contracts, but didn’t know why.

“Well, knowing that, I would prefer that you not sign this contract at this time until I can find out about what Buena Vista and Dickinson counties are thinking,” Sandberg said. “I would like to talk to them first before we do anything.”

The board agreed and tabled further action.

The board closed out its meeting by visiting with a delegation of residents from the Ruthven area and Maureen Sandberg regarding funeral expenses. The board entered into a closed session under the provisions of the Iowa Code Chapter 21.5(f), “To discuss the decision to be rendered in a contested case conducted according to the provisions of Chapter 17A” On a motion by Noonan that was seconded by Hofstand, the meeting went into closed session at 10:35 on a unanimous roll call vote, and came out of closed session at 11:08 a.m., taking no action.