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Spraying Discussed By Supervisors

By Staff | Jul 15, 2010

The topic of spraying drainage ditches was addressed during the July 6 meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors, with several ideas being brought to the table to address the concerns of some landowners. However, the board did not arrive at a final decision on the issue.

After hearing concerns from some landowners two weeks earlier, the board started thinking about options to get the spraying of trees and brush in the drainage ditches completed each year. Previously, an employee of the Secondary Road Department had been tasked with the job, but his job description changed and the spraying has fallen off somewhat.

An idea was raised to shift the spraying from Secondary Roads to the Roadside Vegetation Program, under the direction of County Zoning Administrator and Sanitarian Joe Neary, who was on hand for the discussion. Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, who also sat in on some of the discussion, said his department would have no objection to shifting the spraying work, given the amount of regular duties the road workers were handling.

“We certainly wouldn’t object to such a move,” Fantz said. “If Joe and his people are agreeable, it might be a much more cost-effective way to get this done.”

However, Neary reminded the board that as it sits at the current time, his budget could not assume the extra duties. “I would have to amend a considerable amount for the chemicals, additional labor and the like to do this, but if this is what you want…”

Another option was offered, that of hiring a professional firm to do the spraying each year. The firm of Lawn Manicurists of Algona is used by several adjoining counties, including Pocahontas County, to spray drainage ditches, and comes very highly recommended.

“To do something with the ditches this year, I’d suggest you hire Lawn Manicurists,” Neary suggested, “Then, shift the budgeting for this from Secondary Roads to Rural Services for next year.”

“Why don’t you see if they’d give us an estimate,” Supervisor Ed Noonan asked Neary.

“I agree,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger added.

With the consensus, Neary agreed to check with the firm in Algona and report back to the board.

In other items of business, the board held a completion hearing on work done in Drainage District 61, Lateral J, near West Bend. Engineer Rick Hopper of Jacobson-Westergard and Associates of Estherville reported that the project, with all damage claims, came in some $90,000 less than his original estimate of costs.

Landowners in the area expressed their satisfaction with the work and compensation for damages and the completion report was approved on a unanimous vote of the board.

In other drainage matters, Lynn Harris appeared before the board to ask for repairs to Joint DD85 in Booth Township sections 27 and 34, where at least 10 acres of land are submerged after the recent rains, up to two feet in depth.

“The open ditch isn’t taking the water,” Harris said. “I think there is some kind of blockage in the county main in Section 34.”

Harris explained he had contacted a private contractor to look at the area, and had received an estimate of $10,000 for repairs from the contractor, Schoon Backhoe.

County Engineer Joel Fantz noted that Harris’ request seemed reasonable, and that the estimated was also quite reasonable. “I see no reason not to approve his request to have Schoon’s repair the tile.”

“I know the contractor, and I’d certainly trust his judgment on this,” observed Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

“Why don’t we call the Pocahontas Supervisors and tell them what we’re thinking on this,” suggested Noonan, as the work would be in a joint district with Pocahontas County. “I can’t see it not being approved.”