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Supervisors Discuss Drainage Annexation

By Staff | Jul 30, 2015

The possibility of annexing over 3,000 additional acres into a pair of drainage districts was discussed by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its weekly meeting July 28. The board also approved plans for a pair of bridge replacement projects during the meeting.

Drainage Engineer Rick Hopper of Jacobson-Westergard and Associates raised the possibility of annexation of additional lands to the supervisors on a clean out project being done in Drainage Districts Five, 159 and 160, northwest of Emmetsburg. “There are a lot of acres, just over 3,000 acres, to the west of those districts that have never been assessed for drainage,” Hopper told the board. “I feel that it is important that these acres be assessed and included in DD Five and 160.”

According to Hopper, annexing the additional acres would impact the current clean out costs. “The landowners in DD160 would pay about a quarter less and DD5 about half as much. The good news about this would be that nobody is going to pay as much for the cleanout, but there may be some folks who object to the idea, too.”

“But since they use the drainage, they should be assessed and annexation pursued on these 3,000 acres,” said Supervisor Ron Graettinger.

With no other discussion, the board voted unanimously to direct Hopper to begin work on annexation of the additional acres.

Hopper then addressed a situation in DD61 Lateral B at Rodman, which will be the subject of a hearing on Aug. 4.

“In looking at the classifications for that lateral, I found the northeast quarter of Section 20 in Fern Valley Township was not included in the district,” Hopper noted. “We looked back in the Board minutes and in November of 1990, the Board deleted that quarter,” County Auditor Carmen Moser noted. “Apparently at that time, their attorney told them they could do that.”

But, Hopper noted that in the original history of the district and the lateral, in 1955, the quarter was in the assessment schedule, thus creating confusion whether it could have actually been taken out of the district.

After discussing the issue, which included a call to Drainage Engineer Don Etler, who worked with the district in 1990, no answer could be determined.

“We’ll have to talk with our Drainage Attorney next week at the hearing and get his take on it,” noted Board Chair Pro-Tem Linus Solberg, bringing the discussion to a close.

County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth requested the Board’s approval on construction plans for replacement of two bridges in the county. According to Davis-Oeth, “These bridges are being replaced to allow better access for farm equipment.”

“What is the time frame for construction?” Merrill asked.

“This project would bid in September this year and we would hope work could continue through the winter for both bridges,” Davis-Oeth answered.

Bridge EB 27, a 10-ton bridge located on 350 Street in Sections 10 and 11 of Emmetsburg Township was estimated at $196,692.

Bridge WE77, which is also a 10-ton bridge on 500 Street, between 530 and 535 Avenues in Section 32 and 29 of West Bend Township, was estimated at a cost of $194,490. Both bridges will be replaced with Oden Bridge structures. Both plans were approved.

Davis-Oeth advised the Board of a public hearing August 11 at 8:30 a.m. to upgrade a three-quarter mile portion of gravel road between 470 Avenue and 475 Street from Level “B” to Level “A” service.

“I feel that it is important to have informal hearings on the matter of changing service of a gravel road so that the public can make their feelings known. This is not something that has been done in the past and I want to do this going forward for upgrading or downgrading gravel road service,” Davis-Oeth explained.

“I think this is an excellent idea,” stated Noonan. “It gives people the opportunity to give their thoughts especially when the possibility of downgrading service come up.”

Davis-Oeth also presented a couple of utility permit request from Iowa Lakes Electric Coop. The first was for the relocation of existing overhead lines in Section 11 of Independence Township and the second for changing overhead lines to underground lines in Section 26 of Walnut Township. The permits received unanimous approval from the Supervisors.

The resignation of Lindsey Lueck as full-time Administrative Assistant from the County Engineer’s Office was accepted by the board. Lueck’s last day of work will be August 7. Davis-Oeth asked for and was granted permission to advertise for a full-time replacement for the position.

The Board also accepted the resignation of Lorrie McNally from the County’s Civil Service Commission. Auditor Carmen Moser was given the instructed to advertise for applicants for the board to consider to fill the vacancy.