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Spraying Concerns Addressed By Board Of Supervisors

By Staff | Jul 6, 2010

Wearing the hat of drainage trustees, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors listened to several landowners in the southern portion of the county express concerns about the spraying, or lack thereof, of brush and trees in drainage districts. The conversation was part of the June 29 meeting of the board at the Palo Alto County Courthouse.

Supervisor Keith Wirtz read a letter from James A. Travis, a landowner in Joint Drainage District 63, which expressed a concern over the growth of trees in a drainage ditch, and noted that no spraying had been performed in the ditch for some period of time.

Also on hand to speak to the same issue were Ron Girres and Dale Siebrecht, who also farm land in DD63.

“There really needs to be some spraying done in those ditches,” Girres noted. “It’s not getting done now, and if it isn’t taken care of, there will be bigger problems down the road.”

“There are a lot of small trees in that ditch,” agreed Siebrecht. “They’re a small problem now, but they will get bigger and that will be a more expensive problem to address.”

It has been past practice for the county’s Secondary Road Department to handle spraying of drainage districts, with a three-year rotation plan for the spraying of ditches throughout the county.

“I think we need to see that this spraying is getting done,” Wirtz told his fellow board members. “We need to address this.”

“Maybe we need to move the ditch spraying to our rural services department, with Joe Neary overseeing it,” suggested Supervisor Ed Noonan. “I’ve visited with Joe and he would be willing to talk with us about it. He could keep track of which ditches are being sprayed and cut.”

Supervisor Ron Graettinger agreed. “We need to have someone going out and looking at these ditches and see which ones need the attention first.”

As the discussion continued, the idea of having a commercial contractor do the work was brought up, mentioning a firm from Algona as a possibility. But, the board agreed to meet with Joe Neary to discuss the idea further at its next meeting.

In other business, Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz reported that representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were performing damage assessments in the county after the previous week’s heavy rains. To that end, Fantz noted that county crews were out on Saturday, performing spot grading to address washouts and affected areas on the county’s roads, and also pointed out there were a couple of places where water was still running over roadways. Those areas had been marked and signed where appropriate.

Fantz also reported that the summer crew would have about one more month of working days before a majority of the crewmembers would be leaving to return to school.

“With that in mind, we’re going to keep the tar crew going as long as possible, and the concrete crew will start soon,” Fantz explained. “We’re kind of lucky this year in that we have no real major breakdowns of concrete to address, like we did last year. I compliment the board in its’ foresight to put in the embargoes to help preserve the pavements. The embargo did make a significant difference in the amount of damage to our paved roads this year.”

The engineer also shared a letter going out to landowners in the B53 road project corridor, noting that actual paving is slated to begin the first week in July, starting at Ayrshire and working east.

“The pavers will be using the maturity method for curing the new roadbed,” Fantz reported, noting that would take approximately seven days for the concrete to cure. “That’s a little different from our other projects, so we hope the folks out there will be patient during that time.”

The letter also reminded area residents of the increase in truck traffic that will be coming through the area from Emmetsburg and the concrete plant on Airport Road to the project site.

“We would just remind residents out there to avoid the major haul roads as much as they can during the paving,” Fantz added. “We realize this is an inconvenience, but everyone has been very understanding so far on the project.”

In other business, the board met with Steve Cody, Comptroller of the Wild Rose Casino and Resort in Emmetsburg, to consider a resolution approving a change of independent auditors for the Wild Rose.

“Under the Iowa Code, you need to approve any change in the auditing firm,” Cody explained. “We’re making this change based on economics, and to get a fresh view, no other reason.”

Wirtz moved to introduce and approve the resolution authorizing the change, and following a second by Supervisor Leo Goeders, the resolution was duly approved on a unanimous roll call vote of the board.

The board also introduced and approved a resolution designating Palo Alto County as an Economic Recovery Zone. Officials of AgPartners, LLC, requested the action in order to make businesses such as theirs eligible for federal stimulus funding assistance through bonding created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.