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Supervisors Make Change In County’s Roadside Program

By Staff | Feb 26, 2009

A change is in the air, or along the roadsides, for Palo Alto County following action by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The county’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program, or IRVM, will become an independent entity effective Monday, Mar. 2.

The action came about following a review of budgets by the supervisors earlier this month. Since its inception several years ago, the IRVM program has operated under the auspices of the County Conservation Board, even though the program was funded through the county’s Rural Services Budget Area. The Conservation Board did not include the IRVM in its overall budget each year, which led to some questions by the supervisors during a budget review with Conservation Board Executive Director Steve Pitt.

In the course of a discussion between the Board of Supervisors and Pitt, Pitt told the board they could take the Rural Services Budget area away from Conservation’s control. Following that statement, the board began exploring options to do just that. After visiting with Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz and County Sanitarian and Zoning Officer Joe Neary, the board proposed the creation of an independent entity for IRVM, with oversight coming from Joe Neary, despite predictions from some sectors that splitting the IRVM program away from Conservation would harm the program.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Keith Wirtz introduced a motion to create the IRVM Department as its own entity, with Tim Stowell as the operator of the program.

“I think that Tim Stowell will do a very good job running his own operation,” Wirtz said. “With oversight and cooperation from Joe Neary, I don’t think we’ll see the program go backwards like some have predicted. I think this will work well.”

Supervisor Jerry Hofstad offered a second to Wirtz motion, and agreed with Wirtz’s observation. “I think the program is going to grow, not go backwards.”

“Since we first talked about this, I’ve had the opportunity to research IRVM some more,” Joe Neary told the board. “I’m really looking forward to this opportunity. I’m like you – I don’t think we’ll skip a beat at all.”

With other members of the board also expressing their optimism for the idea, Board Chair Ed Noonan called for a roll-call vote on the motion and received unanimous votes of approval from all five supervisors.

In other business, the board approved the appointment of Rhonda Miller of West Bend and Barb Hofstad of Emmetsburg to serve as co-representatives for the county to Western Iowa Regional Tourism Board.

The Board also approved the employment of Stephanie Hudson as a full time position at the Palo Alto County Attorney’s Office. Hudson, who is currently a part-time employee in the Palo Alto County Engineer’s Office, will begin her duties at the Attorney’s Office on March 2, at a salary of $25,000 yearly plus family medical insurance benefits.

A utility permit for Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative was also approved for overhead construction along and crossing 520 Avenue in Section 24 of Freedom Township.