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Supervisors Discuss Damage

By Staff | Jul 8, 2008

Palo Alto County Supervisors held a telephone conference call with their counterparts in Pocahontas County Tuesday to determine a course of action on Joint Drainage District 63. The ditch suffered a large washout during the June 11 storm when water levels rose rapidly. Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz touched on the ditch damage in his weekly briefing with the supervisors on July 1.

“As you may be aware by now, Palo Alto County was declared a Disaster Area by the Governor and he President,” Fantz told the board. “In the county, we have documented damage to abutments on three bridges that experienced a lot of scouring and washouts.”

Fantz noted that all three bridges happened to be located on joint ditch 63, and that the three bridges were structurally sound, but work needed to be done on the abutments, due to the rapid water flow during the storm.

“We also had several areas where overtopping of roads occurred, and those are repairable with gravel and rock, and we are keeping track of those expenses,” Fantz reported. “But, the large blowout in the joint drainage ditch is just right over the line in our county, but this is the time to address repairing that damage.”

According to the engineer, the actual repair to the ditch could be accomplished by the Secondary Road Department, if it were kept low scale. However, Fantz noted, having Kuehl and Payer engineers survey the damaged area and recommend repairs might be a more desirable course of action.

“This ditch was cleaned out in 1996, and then a FEMA repair was done on it in 2001,” Fantz noted. “Plus, I understand Pocahontas County is doing some FEMA repairs on the ditch in their county from last year’s damage as we speak. I guess my recommendation would be that it doesn’t cost that much to have Kuehl and Payer assess it for damages.”

“I think I’d rather see someone else do the work on the ditch,” commented Supervisor Keith Wirtz, “Rather than pulling our people off work in progress and our road projects. I know our forces could do this work, but they’ve got enough to do.”

“I won’t dispute that,” Fantz agreed. “But with this disaster declaration, we’ve got the opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons on this deal. That’s very sandy soil down there on those banks, and if some remediation like rip-rap were needed, and FEMA will pay for most of it. At 20 cents on the dollar, we need to take advantage of that.”

Fantz continued, “The question is do you want secondary roads to go in and repair it and submit it to FEMA, or do you want to have Kuehl and Payer survey it and work through them with FEMA?”

“I think we should led Kuehl and Payer do it,” Wirtz replied.

“Yes, we need to stay with our own projects,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger agreed.

A conference call was then placed to the Pocahontas County Supervisors, as Pocahontas is the control county for the drainage district. Fantz explained the situation with the damage to ditch to the Pocahontas Board, noting he thought the best course of action would be to have Kuehl and Payer survey the damages. “That way, at the very least, you have a FEMA claim on it for damages to a public facility.”

The Pocahontas County Board expressed their agreement with the recommendation of Fantz, and following a motion to that extent by Palo Alto County Supervisor Jerry Hofstad, both boards approved the motion unanimously. Pocahontas Chair Jack DeWolf then asked Fantz and the Palo Alto Board to coordinate the project with FEMA, and the phone hearing came to a close.

In other business, Fantz revisited the cost for farm driveways constructed by Secondary Roads forces for farmers. “Earlier this year we changed the fee to $300, plus the cost of the pipe. I think we need to increase this to cover our costs a little better.”

Fantz noted that Clay County charges $800 for a farm driveway, not including the cost of pipe. A typical farm driveway, or field entrance, is usually 24 feet in width.

“I would propose $400 for the driveway, not including the cost of pipe,” Fantz said. “Then for each additional 10 feet of width, an additional $150, again not including the cost of pipe.”

“I think it ought to be $500,” commented Hofstad.

“It is a service that we offer, but we can’t give it away,” Fantz pointed out.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the $400 fee for farm driveways on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Hofstad voting nay.