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County Supervisors Reminded Of Road Embargo Season

By Staff | Oct 13, 2009

With the recent declaration by Iowa Governor Chet Culver of a suspension of regular weight restrictions on roadways for the harvest season, Palo Alto County Supervisors are thinking about embargoes on local roadways once again. Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz brought the subject to the board’s attention during its weekly meeting Oct. 6.

“The Governor raised the weight limits for the harvest, as he does every year,” Fantz told the board members. “In the past, you have set embargoes on our roads of six tons in the Spring, and you set an eight-ton per axle embargo on the section of N48 north of Huron Street last Fall for the harvest.”

“There was the one concern last year and we worked that out on that road,” noted Supervisor Ron Graettinger. “Otherwise, everyone has come to expect it and I don’t think there will be a problem with it,”

With the board in agreement that time to enact the embargo was at hand, a resolution to do so was placed on the agenda for the Oct. 13 board meeting.

In other business, Fantz reported that rainy conditions had put a real damper on lots of projects in the county, including the paving project north of Ruthven. “The corner still has to come out and be re-constructed,” Fantz noted. “And then the half-mile east of there will have to be cracked and re-seated before it can be paved.”

Board chair Ed Noonan asked why the stretch north from Ruthven to the corner wasn’t being cracked as well.

“That surface has originally been overlaid with asphalt before this project,” Fantz noted. “To the east, on B25, that is the original pavement that has never been resurfaced. We will do a three-inch overlay on the N20 stretch north, and then a six-inch overlay on the east half-mile, which should give us a good, strong roadway.”

Fantz also reported that he had talked with representatives of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about a proposal to replace culverts underneath the county pavement adjacent to the Blue Wing Marsh on the east side of Lost Island Lake. The DNR had proposed the county stand the expense of replacing the culverts as part of a DNR plan to drain the marsh and build a water control structure.

“The DNR was not too excited about our proposal of no cost to us, but they were interested in the idea of us doing the inspection work on the project,” Fantz noted. “They said they didn’t have any extra money to replace culverts with.”

“They’ve got all kinds of money,” Supervisor Graettinger snorted.

“Yeah, they’ve got #96,000 of our money,” Supervisor Jerry Hofstad added as the discussion ended.

In other business, the board approved a 28E agreement with the City of Emmetsburg to allow the County Treasurer’s Office to accept payment for municipal fines, following legislation enacted by the Iowa Legislature. Routine fines, such as parking tickets, are now paid at the treasurer’s office, rather than the clerk of court’s office under the new regulations.

Palo Alto County Sheriff Dennis Goeders met with the board to discuss an idea for the creation of a step salary schedule for deputies and civilian employees of his office, which would be based on experience.

“I think that over time, this would save us money,” Goeders said. “Employees would start at 70 percent of the sheriff’s salary and would advance by one percent per year. As it is now, deputies all start at the same wage, whether they have five years of experience or zero experience, and that’s not really right.”

Goeders pointed out the same was true for jailers and dispatch operators and that in visiting with employees, a majority of the employees were supportive of the idea.

“If this were adopted, the union would not discuss salary issues,” Goeders pointed out.

“If your people are in favor of this, and its reverse neutral, this board wouldn’t object to it,” Noonan told the sheriff.

“You’ll just have to get the union to agree to it,” Graettinger noted, bringing the discussion to a close.