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Let The Mowing Begin

By Staff | Sep 16, 2008

With the hiring of two part-time employees, the Palo Alto County Secondary Road Department will resume the regular mowing of roadsides once again. Palo Alto County Supervisors gave their blessing to the hirings during their weekly meeting on Sept. 9.

The lack of mowing of road shoulders throughout the county has been a source of concern for the supervisors in recent weeks. Due to an aggressive construction program by the Secondary Road Department, a majority of the gravel roads in the county had not had shoulders mowed over the summer. The paved roads had received regular mowing, but the moist and cooler than normal summer promoted the growth of grass, making some gravel roads seem like veritable tunnels.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz asked the board a few weeks earlier for permission to hire some part-time employees to handle the mowing. After soliciting applications, two applicants were selected.

“I would recommend the hiring of Eric Smith of Emmetsburg and Ron Hampson of Graettinger as the part-time mower operators,” Fantz said. “Their wage would be $9.25 per hours, with the work week not to exceed 32 hours per week, and we are requiring them to carry a cell phone with them while they work.”

According to the engineer, since the mowers may work later than the normal work hours for the county crew, cell phones would allow the mower operators to be able to contact assistance, rather than relying on the county’s radios.

The board approved the hirings, and also agreed to continue exploring the possibility of putting the roadside mowing out for bids for next year, as it had discussed a couple of weeks earlier.

The board also voted to proceed with the placement of a stop sign at the intersection of 570 Avenue and 400 Street, after several of the supervisors had visited the intersection and spoken with residents near the intersection. A week earlier, the possibility of a yield sign, rather than a full stop sign, had been raised and Fantz agreed to look into the possibility.

“I think a yield sign out there is a bad idea,” Fantz reported. “A Yield sign assigns responsibility and I’m most interested in preventing accidents. I would recommend a stop sign there instead.”

Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to place the stop sign, and on a vote, Noonan, along with Supervisors Jerry Hofstad and Board Chair Leo Goeders voted aye, while Supervisors Keith Wirtz and Ron Graettinger voted against the sign.

The supervisors held a joint conference call with the Pocahontas County Board of Supervisors to open bids for a repair project on Joint Drainage Ditch 60 in Rush Lake Township. A total of four bids were received for the repair project, with Reutzel Excavating of Burt being the apparent low bidder. Reutzel submitted a bid of $17,185.50, while L.A. Carlson Construction of Moville bid $17,982. Valley Contracting of Estherville submitted a bid of $26.791.40 and Reding Excavation of Algona submitted a bid of $35,090 for the work.

Gary Atherton, representing Kuehl and Payer Engineering of Algona, recommended the Reutzel Excavating bid as the apparent low bid, and following a motion by Noonan, the bid was accepted on unanimous votes of both boards.