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Supervisors Discuss More Drainage Repairs

By Staff | Jul 29, 2008

Coming up with a way to perform minor drainage district repairs was one of the areas of discussion for the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during their meeting on Tuesday. A briefing on the re-establishment of a local Red Cross program was also given to the supervisors, along with a report on the activities of the Palo Alto County Economic Development Commission.

In visiting with Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, Supervisors Keith Wirtz and Jerry Hofstad asked about a limited clean up on a small portion of Drainage Ditch 21 near Emmetsburg. A build up of silt near a culvert was slowing the flow of water in the ditch.

“It’d be nice if we wouldn’t have to go through a big project just to do a little dipping out there,” Wirtz said.

“The landowners say once the water gets around a bend in that ditch where it’s silted in, that the water really flows well,” Hofstad added.

Fantz had been asked earlier in the summer if the Secondary Road Department would be able to dip out the silt, but due to the depth of the ditch, that option was not possible.

“I would suggest that you go to contractors and ask them for bids based on time and materials,” Fantz said. “This would require a long-reach excavator, but the board, acting as trustees of the district, could take bids and have the right to pre-approve the contractor and their equipment. As long as you stay within the Code guidelines, you wouldn’t need to do a huge excavation project that would cost a lot of money to the landowners.”

“I agree with that,” Wirtz said. “If we’d have it bid by the hour, we could approve the contractor and his equipment to make sure he could do the work right.”

“We could also put a cap on the amount to be spent on the project,” Hofstad added.

“But how would the contractor know how deep to dig?” questioned Palo Alto County Auditor Gary Leonard. “You have to have an engineer draw up specs to follow.”

“If we do that, we’re back to square one and spending a lot of money for something simple,” Wirtz replied.

“I think you could bid something like this for actual excavation time with some monitoring of the work,” Fantz said. “This is actually a good idea, having someone identified that you could call on to do these kind of limited projects, almost like having them on a retainer.”

After a few more minutes of discussion, Wirtz moved to take bids on an hourly basis for ditch dipping and various drainage district maintenance and repairs, with the board reserving the right to approve operators and equipment as part of the bids. The motion was seconded by Hofstad and approved on a unanimous vote.

“This makes so much sense,” observed Supervisor Ed Noonan following the vote.

In other business, the board heard a presentation from Gennifer Scott of Emmetsburg, who reported that she is training with the American Red Cross in the hopes of re-establishing a local presence of the Red Cross in Palo Alto County.

“Across the country, the Red Cross has been reorganizing, cutting down on their upper level management and concentrating more on local efforts,” Scott noted. “There used to be a local Red Cross presence, but Palo Alto and Kossuth Counties are now both affiliated with the Iowa Great Lakes Chapter of the Red Cross.”

According to Scott, the recent flooding and storm damage in the state, coupled with the number of local residents serving in the military, prompted a re-awakening of interest in having some local presence of the organization.

“I’ve had several people volunteer to staff a local office, say maybe a day or two a month, or help out in an emergency,” Scott told the board. “I guess what I’m looking for right now is some space to do this in.”

Board Chair Leo Goeders asked if there were any space available in the Brink Building, owned by the county, on Main Street. Supervisor Ron Graettinger noted there was a room that held several unused filing cabinets, which might suit the purpose.

“Right now, I just want it to be known throughout the county that there is going to be a presence of the Red Cross in Palo Alto County, and that there will be a number that people can call for help,” Scott said.

The board expressed its support of the idea and agreed to work with Scott as the effort continues.

PACEDC President Kris Ausborn and Executive Director Maureen Elbert presented a quarterly report on the activities of the Palo Alto County Economic Development Commission. Ausborn started by inviting the supervisors to the annual breakfast of the joint Palo Alto and Kossuth County Economic Development groups on Thursday, August 7, in Whittemore, noting that Mike Trametino, the Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, would be the keynote speaker at the event.

Ausborn also noted that the PACEDC’s Revolving Loan Fund was ready for use, with $200,000 available in the fund, following a grant from the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Commission and matching donations from several financial institutions, communities and the county.

Maureen Elbert noted that work continues with the various city clerks to keep information on their respective communities updated on the development organization’s website.

“We are also developing a program called Business Call Visits, where we actually will go out and meet with businesses, and industries in their facilities, and see first-hand what their needs are, and see what we can do to help them,” Elbert explained. “We’ve had this program in place in Kossuth County for some time and are getting it started here in Palo Alto County.”

In other business, the board approved the hiring of Brandi Goeders as a part-time clerical worker in the Palo Alto County Attorney’s office. A salary of $7.50 per hour was approved, with no benefits. Goeders replaces a part-time employee who left for full-time employment elsewhere.