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Supervisors Approve Project

By Staff | Jul 22, 2008

A bid to remove trees and perform repairs on Drainage District 132 was accepted by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its July 15 meeting. The supervisors also agreed to send a letter to a landowner along Drainage Ditch 98 regarding the removal of trees creating a restriction in that ditch as well.

The supervisors received a bid of $19,000 from Schany Construction of Graettinger to remove trees and reshape ditch banks that had sloughed away along DD 132, which runs along U.S. Highway 18 west of Emmetsburg for a little over a mile and empties into the Des Moines River. The ditch was identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as needing repairs following flooding last Fall.

The board had originally talked about removing trees along the ditch from the river to the white cement bridge at 440 Avenue, but after re-examining the FEMA plans, determined that the tree removal needed to continue further to the west, of 440 Avenue.

Palo Alto County Auditor Gary Leonard reported to the board that the original cost of the ditch had been $25,649 when it was constructed, and that Schany’s bid of $19,000 was within the state regulations regarding bidding and improvements on drainage ditches.

On a motion by Supervisor Ed Noonan that was seconded by Supervisor Keith Wirtz, the board accepted Schany’s bid unanimously.

In a related issue, the board discussed a situation that arose on DD98, southeast of Mallard. The ditch was cleaned out in a major project back in 1999, and at that time, a stretch along the open ditch, owned by Steven and Lana Ruppert, was permitted to leave several large cottonwood trees left in place at Ruppert’s request. In an agreement ratified in 2001, Ruppert agreed to be responsible for the removal of any trees that might cause damage or impediment of the flow of the ditch along his property.

In recent weeks, branches that have fallen in the ditch have impeded the flow, and other landowners along the ditch have requested that the branches be removed.

After reviewing the 2001 agreement, the board agreed to have the county’s drainage attorney, Jim Hudson, send Ruppert a registered letter requesting the branches be removed within 30 days.

In other business, the supervisors voted to deny a request from Daniel Freeman of Graettinger to delay his property tax assessment. The board cited setting a precedent in denying the request.

Palo Alto County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker presented the board with her semi-annual settlement report, and noted that investments made with the bond issues for the upcoming road construction projects were performing a better than she had hoped for.

“The interest earned on our bonds is actually above where we had projected it to be,” Hilfiker told the board. “The rate at the end of June 2008 was 1.9 percent, but we were able to get a rate of 2.75 percent interest for our investments.”

“I’m very glad we invested locally,” Hilfiker continued. “We had been given a recommendation to invest in Fannie Mae, the federal mortgage business, but after their troubles in the past couple of weeks, I’m glad we didn’t.”

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz noted that due to the high cost of fuel, mowing along the county’s gravel roads had been put on hold. “Unless you have a specific reason on the gravels, we’re just going to hold off on them. We’re still mowing the pavements, though.”

“Grading more helps take care of some of the gravel problems,” noted Noonan. “I don’t have a problem with waiting on the mowing,” ending the discussion.