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Variety Of Issues Occupy Supervisors

By Staff | Jun 3, 2008

Some continuing issues came up before the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors in its May 27 meeting. Among the issues discussed was a drainage request involving a culvert under a county road.

The issue came up in a discussion over a request for repairs to a lateral in Drainage District 21 that the supervisors received a week earlier in Nevada Township. In that request, Dick L. Coffman of Sioux City stated that farmland in the northeast corner of the southeast quarter of Section 10 of Nevada Township, was purchased in 2006 and that during the 2007 crop year, several problems with the drainage were noted. There were two occasions when field tile were determined to be broken, but could not be repaired by contractors due to the fact that water levels in the drainage ditch, DD21, kept the outlet of the tile submerged.

“This old tile is less than 18” deep in the field and needs to be replaced, but if its outlet is submerged, a new tile at a lower depth would not be effective, either,” Coffman wrote in a letter accompanying the petition for repair.

Coffman went on to note that there were delays in planting and harvesting crops on the farmland due to the land being very slow to dry, and that another tile is broken at the current time, and a contractor says it cannot be repaired until the water level in the ditch is lower than the tile outlet.

“I looked at the drainage ditch on several occasions during the 2007 season and there was always water standing in it,” Coffman wrote. “I expect that the ditch has silted in and that the silt is restricting the water flow to the west of the Maurania farm.

According to Coffman, he has discussed the situation with drainage engineer Don Etler of Kuehl and Payer of Algona, who indicated that the ditch was designed to give an adequate outlet for any existing tile or new tile, that would be installed on the Maurania property.

Coffman’s petition requests that the drainage ditch be cleaned out to the original design depth.

After receiving the petition, the board had referred it to the Palo Alto County Engineer’s office for preliminary investigation. John Wright, Assistant to the County Engineer, reported back to the board that there was a 96-inch culvert underneath a gravel road that the lateral in the petition ran through.

“My only objection would be if the drainage engineer would want to lowera the grade of the lateral,” Wright said. “We would need to check the culvert to see if his proposal would impact it.

“Here we go again,” Supervisor Keith Wirtz said. “If this culvert was done according to the design engineer’s specs, why should it be the county’s expense to lower it? How do the rest of you feel?

“I agree with you,” Supervisor Jerry Hofstad spoke up, with other board members expressing their agreement.

“Some drainage districts might not mind paying to lower a culvert if it would improve their drainage,” Supervisor Ed Noonan observed.

“I agree with that,” Wirtz said, “a ditch should be fixed right, but if a ditch has already been engineered once, why pay an engineer twice?

“It seems to me the culvert was designed for the depth of the tile in the district,” Hofstad said. “But if the landowner want to lower his tile, the culvert would have to be lowered too, and then the landowner should have to pay for that, not the county.

The discussion concluded with an agreement to refer the petition to Don Etler for further review.

In other Secondary Roads business, Wright received approval from the supervisors to hire Terra-Con of Des Moines to conduct borings for several bridge projects throughout the county, including the Flynn Bridge southeast of Emmetsburg. According to Wright, the 13 borings at four bridges will cost approximately $11,000, or about $854 per bore hole.

“The borings are done so that we can determine the piling stability for the soil types,” Wright explained. “Some of these bores will go 75 feet deep.

Wright also reported that Brian Waldstein, a resident at Fairview Beach, on the south shore of Lost Island Lake, had contacted the Engineers’ Office about the possibility of maintenance on the north-south access road to the development, with the maintenance to possibly include grading and application of some rock.

“There are some issues with clearance for our equipment in spots,” Wright noted, “And, those folks have indicated that there is a possibility that at some point, they might turn the road over to the county. But, there is probably something we could do there on a reimbursable basis.”

In other items of business, the supervisors approved a contract with the Spencer Municipal Hospital for mental health services at a cost of $546 per day, A liquor license for Spring Hills Country Club in Mallard was also approved by the board.

In its final action of the day, the board acknowledged the receipt of a letter on Tuesday morning, May 27, from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Iowa in Sioux City, regarding a Chapter Seven bankruptcy filing by Douglas J. Metz of Emmetsburg. Earlier in May, the board had started debt collection proceedings against Metz to collect $20,000 for a loan that the county guaranteed for Metz Manufacturing. The letter informed the board that a meeting of creditors in the filing had been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Monday, July 7, 2008, at the Fort Dodge Public Library Meeting Room, and also listed the deadlines for filing

The motion to acknowledge the letter was made by Noonan and seconded by Supervisor Ron Graettinger, and received unanimous approval.