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Equipment Breakdown Discussed By Supervisors

By Staff | Oct 15, 2009

Palo Alto County’s Board of Supervisors found out that an old friend wasn’t doing too well during the weekly meeting of the group on Tuesday, Oct. 13. The old friend is actually a piece of equipment that has been used heavily by the Secondary Road Department for over 20 years.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz brought the sad news to the supervisors in his weekly briefing. “The Bantam broke down yesterday, and I’m afraid that from the way it sounds, it may be done for once and for all.”

The Bantam is a self-propelled telescoping reach excavator that the county purchased about 20 years ago used from the Clay County Secondary Road Department. Since acquiring the unit, it has been repaired when need be, but as the unit is no longer constructed, replacement and repair parts have become more difficult to obtain.

According to Fantz, a large shaft that allows the bucket to rotate on the boom arm shattered during use on Monday.

“The problem is that the source of parts that we always went to, well, no one answers the telephone there anymore,” Fantz said. “We don’t know if they’re out of business or what the problem is. If we can’t find a replacement part, the options we face are to have one machined and made, which could be very expensive, or to perhaps look to replace the entire machine with a new one. We just learned that there is a company up in Minnesota building a similar looking machine, but we don’t know much more than that right now.”

The engineer noted that when the county purchased the Bantam, it was 10 years old at that time, and with the 20 years use that Palo Alto County has put on the machine, it has had a good life.

“That Bantam has been such a good will machine,” Fantz said. “You could take that out and dip out a ditch for a farmer and help solve a drainage problem so quick. It’s just been a wonderful asset to have.”

“I’d suggest you get the replacement part made so that we can continue to use it,” Supervisor Jerry Hofstad said.

“We could certainly do that,” Fantz agreed. “If you can fix something, you do it, but you also have to look at the costs involved in fixing it, too.”

“I’d suggest you look into fixing it so it can be used,” agreed Supervisor Keith Wirtz, “But I’d also look around at buying a used excavator to replace it, if you can find one to meet your needs.”

“I just wanted you to be aware of this development,” Fantz told the board, after noting that if a replacement excavator had to be purchased, funding could be arranged in the secondary roads budgets through amendments. “But in the short term, I’m hearing you say that we should fix it, so that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Fantz also presented an underground utility permit for the Ayrshire Farmers Mutual Telephone Company to bury cable along county road B53 east of Ayrshire in preparation for the reconstruction project on the roadway. The permit was granted on a unanimous vote of the board members.

The board members introduced and adopted a resolution setting a weight embargo of eight tons per axle on county road N48, north of Huron Street, on the east side of Five Island Lake.

“Could we just embargo N48 all the time” Hofstad asked after the vote. Fantz said the board could do that.

“I think if we don’t save that road, there won’t be anything left of it,” Hofstad said.

Board chair Ed Noonan asked Fantz on the status of 490 Street, noting it was a no-snow road, but that it was a direct route south from county road N52 to Highway 18.

“It is no snow, and it can get pretty bad,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger answered after noted. “I think it needs to be left no snow. If we were going to take it off the no snow list, it would need to be regarded.”

In other business, the board tabled action on amending a resolution for use of county Right-of-Way. “We need to take some more time to study this issue so we don’t make another mistake,” Wirtz noted.

Zoning Administrator Joe Neary updated the board on a zoning violation in Highland Township.

“I received a complaint about a residence near Ruthven,” Neary reported, “And when I went out to look at it, I would have to say that on a scale of one to 10, it would be towards the top.”

Neary noted that there were several appliances in various stages of disassembly all over the property, along with apparent junked vehicles and discarded tires. “Things like this lead to burn piles, which lead to toxic smoke and residues from the burn pile.”

According to Neary, the property owner was to receive a registered letter with a deadline of November 1 to respond and make arrangements to correct the situation or face further action.