homepage logo

Road Embarges In Effect Early This Year

By Staff | Feb 25, 2016

Palo Alto County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth notified the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors that the spring road embargo will likely be coming earlier than normal, possibly as soon as a couple of weeks. The notice was given at the regular weekly meeting of the Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Both the Board of Supervisors and the County Engineer have been inundated with calls regarding the condition of gravel roads throughout the county in recent days.

“We are working on the gravel roads, it’s just very wet at this time and I don’t foresee it getting better anytime soon. We will continue working on the roads in the county as they keep drying out,” Davis-Oeth said. “At this time my graders can only blade in the morning until about 11:00 a.m., then it warms up and gets wet.”

With all the rain we had this past winter, the ground is saturated, making gravel roads difficult to drive on. Davis-Oeth pointed out that the spring road embargos are likely to be earlier than normal.

“I do not like to interfere with how people make their living by embargoing roads this early, making farmers travel longer routes, but to prevent pavements from being damaged, it is a must. Many farmers are selling grain at this time and I don’t like them having to travel farther because of an embargo,” Davis-Oeth said. “However, paying out about $30,000 to $40,000 to repair a gravel road is much better than paying out $600,000 to fix pavement.”

In other business, Davis-Oeth brought up hiring the summer crew. He wants to hire eight or nine people at $10.50 per hour, giving someone who has worked for the county prior and additional $ .50 per hour.

“This is all still in the air but I wanted you to be aware of it when it comes time to place an ad,” Davis-Oeth said.

Davis-Oeth presented the Board with the contract for B14 for Hot Mix Asphalt Overlaying with Heartland Asphalt in the amount of $929,649.

The Board also met with Jeremy Thilges, Field Technician for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to discuss a Wetland Restoration Project in Highland Township, Section Five. The WRP has an easement just to the east of the Redwood Campground at Lost Island Lake north of Ruthven.

“There is a six inch private intake, along the highway, we would like to remove. It doesn’t really have a function. We probed it and it doesn’t really go anywhere,” Thilges began.

“Mike Flaherty, Secondary Roads Supervisor believes it does drain the ditch and that it is the only way the ditch drains,” Davis-Oeth replied.

“I can bring in the topography map showing it is not used for drainage,” Thilges commented. “It is about 200 feet from the low spot.”

“Can’t we extend the tile to the low spot?” Supervisor Ed Noonan asked.

“I do not see any reason to take out an intake that drains a ditch,” Davis-Oeth replied.

“I was hoping that we could treat this as a waterway,” Thilges said. “Part of the reason for this project is to prevent flooding of the campground.”

With further discussion, Thilges and Davis-Oeth were directed by the Board to meet at the site and review it together, bringing back the results at a later time.

The Supervisors also met Rhonda Helm of Ayrshire, who was appointed earlier this year to the County Conservation Board. Helm currently lives in the Ayrshire area and works at Hopkins Insurance in Pocahontas. She has a background in finance having prior banking experience.

“I enjoy the outdoors and feel this is a good way to represent the county and I am looking forward to working with Mary a little,” Helm told the Supervisors.