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Supervisors Discuss Grading,Bridge Project

By Staff | May 6, 2008

A resolution designating nine gravel roads in the county for the placement of limestone rock and some regarding was introduced and approved by the Palo Alto Cnty Board of Supervisors in its weekly meeting on April 29. The board also discussed the Integrated Service Pathways program again at length, and arrived at a decision on funding for the program, known as ISP.

In his weekly briefing to the board, Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz brought a list of roads that had been identified by the Secondary Road Department foremen as most in need of limestone rock placement, and in some cases, re-grading, in order to support truck traffic. With the sale of bonds earlier this year by the county to fund several road improvement, repair and construction projects, the placement of the limestone rock is some of the first tangible work being done through the bond, according to Fantz.

“Some of these roads may require some re-grading before we add the limestone rock,” Fantz explained to the board, but this will be the first visible use of the bonding funds in our road repair program.

As Fantz shared the list of roads targeted for the work, Supervisor Ed Noonan asked if a section of road could be added to the list. “I got a call about 510 Avenue, from 440 Street to 370 Street, wondering if it couldn’t get some rock,” Noonan said. “I think it would fit into what we’re trying to do pretty easily.

Fantz agreed. “We thought about that road, too, and I agree, we can add it to the list. It would certainly benefit from some rock and probably some re-grading as well.

On a motion by Noonan that was seconded by Supervisor Keith Wirtz, the resolution was introduced and approved on a unanimous vote of the supervisors.

Fantz also presented the board with a contract for engineering work on the Kirby-Flynn Bridge over the Des Moines River, which has been closed for several years. A fire burned timbers on the northern end of the bridge a couple of years ago and the bridge has been closed to the public.

“This contract with Shuck-Britson of Des Moines would be in the amount of $16,800,” Fantz explained. “They will study the bridge, take measurements and see if we can put it back into service with at least a five ton rating. We don’t need another three ton bridge in the county, so if it is not feasible, then it won’t happen.

According to Fantz, when the engineering is done, the next step will be to determine costs to put the structure back into service. “From the records we have, this bridge was built in the late 1800’s and was moved to its current location in 1919. We have lots of steel beams in the pipe lot that we can use to put it back into service, but if we can’t get it rated for at least five tons, we probably won’t do anything with it.

The board approved the contract unanimously.

Fantz also noted that staking for right-of-way along the county road N60, or 530 Avenue is underway and that landowners along the road are responding well to the process. “We are behind where we should be with this and we’re playing catch-up,” Fantz admitted. “We would like to have an informational meeting on Friday, May 9 at the Election Center in Emmetsburg at 7:30 to explain what we plan to do on the project.

According to Fantz, the meeting would allow the engineer’s staff to explain what the project will consist of, how it will be done and allow landowners along the road to ask questions.

In other business, after discussing the ISP program a week earlier, the board continued discussing what to do in regards to funding. County Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg suggested that if the board did decide to fund the ISP, that the board do so on a monthly basis, rather than a full year.

“I’d really like to see the actual cost of the ISP,” noted Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. “You can guess and make figures read any way you want. I’d like to get rid of the ISP, but if it would cost more to do this on our own without that program, then we need to keep it.

“It just seems to me that one way or the other, we’re going to have to pay,” Supervisor Keith Wirtz said.

Currently, the ISP program, which had been funded by grants, has exhausted the grant funding. To keep the service going, it would require $1,056 per month from the supervisors, according to Sandberg.

“The ISP has applied for three grants, and they hope to hear back at the end of May whether or not they receive any of the grants,” Sandberg noted. “And they are still looking and applying for other grants.

“Would these grants cover their costs?” asked Supervisor Ron Graettinger, who had missed the previous meeting and discussion.

“If they get all three grants, yes, their costs would be covered,” Sandberg replied. “If they get those grants, then we don’t have to pay.

“It looks to me like it’s an insurance policy that we’re paying for with this,” noted Noonan. “Maybe we could look at self-insuring ourselves for this.”

After throwing a couple of ideas out on the table for discussion, Graettinger moved to fund the ISP on a monthly basis at $1,056, with half of the payment to come from the sheriff’s jail budget and half to come from mental health funds, with the funding to run until the ISP program learns whether they receive grand funding. Noonan seconded the motion, which was approved by the board on a unanimous vote.