Roads dominated year for county supervisors
Jefferson County Board of Supervisor meetings in the past year have covered a lot of ground — or roads.
From the first meeting in January, when supervisors were wrapping up claims for windshield damage from Salina Road’s summer chip and seal, to Monday’s meeting discussing two bridge replacements on Ash Avenue, the care and maintenance of county roads is a large share of the work done by the county.
In February, Scott Cline said the county’s insurance sent a check for $10,000 to the county for windshield repairs made for drivers who encountered flying rocks on Salina Road in 2012. Cline said the county’s actual expense for the windshield repairs was more like $17,500.
The first month of 2013 ended with a meeting that discussed the roads’ maintenance agreement between the county and Maharishi Vedic City.
The billing rate, effective July 1, 2014, will be $400 per mile for roads the county maintains and $200 per mile annually for roads Maharishi Vedic City and Jefferson County share responsibility for — city limit border roads.
Roads and streets entirely inside the city limits, that are not designated Farm to Market, are not the county’s responsibility. Jasmine Avenue is the only Farm-to-Market road impacting Maharishi Vedic City, Cline said.
Jefferson County is also responsible for maintaining traffic signs, pavement markings and any speed limits on county roads and the half-and-half roads.
Cline said the county road crew does not go out at night to clear snow and ice, unless there is a declared emergency.
“Generally, we go for the more traveled roads and paved roads first,” said Cline. “When crews complete their section, they can go on to help another section.”
About 16-17 employees are available to clear roads. Each is assigned a specific route to clear. County trucks begin clearing between 6-7 a.m., said Cline.
“Operators start where the equipment is parked and head off in the direction of the highest priority,” said Cline. “We don’t get 100 percent clear to pavement or gravel.”
The county will salt areas most in need, such as hills, intersections and curves, “and other areas that may be worse than others,” said Cline.
April rains created minor flooding on some Jefferson County roads, causing the secondary roads department to barricade and post closed road signs.
“Hemlock was closed, we didn’t want anyone to drive across the bridge,” said Cline. “The bridge had debris clinging to it when the water went back down, but the structure looked OK. We cleaned the debris away.
“Some of the shoulders of roads got rocked to stabilize the soft spots.”
Cline estimated a dozen or so portions of roads around the county were closed due to high water. To re-open paved roads, mud had to be scraped away. He said portions of Cedar Avenue, 220th Street, Ash Avenue, 160th Street, Osage Avenue, 205th Street, 160th Street also known as Germanville Road, Redwood Avenue, Juniper Avenue and Fir Avenue were among those closed.
“Even Pleasant Plain Road had water over the top of part of it,” said Cline.
May rains caused area creeks to flood and portions of county roads, including: 160th Street near the Skunk River; 256th Street east of Highway 1 is flooded from Cedar Creek; and Osage Avenue is flooded from Cedar Creek, were barricaded.
Since the county was declared a federal disaster area for the April 17 storm, federal money will cover 75 percent of repair costs, the state pays 10 percent and local governments pay 15 percent. The repairs for this storm include laying a new waterline to Libertyville.
Supervisors accepted the low bid, $626,871 for 52,575 tons of rock provided to the Secondary Roads Department from Douds quarry for fiscal year 2014.
“We’ll use 250 tons per mile on Farm to Market roads and 200 tons per mile on all other roads,” said Cline.
Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved speed limits of 45 mph on 170th Street between Juniper and Iris avenues and on Jasmine Avenue between 170th and 180th streets.
Cline reported in November to the board of supervisors about the cost, $12.8 million, to bring county paved roads up to 85 percent service level or better.
Upcoming scheduled projects the county has budgeted and can fund, is $1.3 million that will include work on 1.65 miles of 185th Street in summer 2014, budgeted at $820,000; and hot mix asphalt and sidewalk work on Ash Avenue in Batavia and slurry seal on asphalt roads south of Batavia in summer 2015. Asphalt milling in Batavia is $30,000; crack-filling south of Batavia is $20,000; and the slurry seal is $17,000.
Other projects, not scheduled, to improve Jefferson County paved road system connectivity, that traffic can justify an upgrade and supervisors agree could be upgraded include:
• Paving 1.56 miles, now gravel, with Portland Concrete Cement on Osage Avenue, from Route 34 to Glasgow Road, at a cost of $1.6 million.
• Paving 2 miles, now gravel, with PCC on Nutmeg Avenue, from Salina Road to Business 34, with a cost of $1.75 million.
• Paving/resurfacing 1.2 miles with 4-inches of hot mix asphalt and rebuild intersection on Salina Road with Pleasant Plain Road to Nutmeg Avenue, costing $375,000.
Heartland Co-op told the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors and a packed meeting room Monday morning it is interested in building a grain storage elevator and rail shipment operation in the county.
Tom Hauschel, CEO and general manager, and Todd Phillips, executive vice president of grain and risk management at Heartland Co-op, with 52 Iowa locations and administrative offices in West Des Moines, outlined the economic development project planned for about two miles east of Fairfield.
“This would be a $25 million investment to build 4.4 million bushel of storage capacity,” said Hauschel. “We figured this by drawing on six counties using it in the region.”
The company has already acquired 162 acres that border Nutmeg Avenue and Highway 34. Of that 162 acres, 150 acres will remain as agricultural land, only 12 acres will be devoted to grain elevators, roads for trucks and the facility’s rail siding in the first phase.
Much of 2013 supervisors’ business also was taken up with the state’s regionalization of mental health care.
In mid-January, Jefferson County supervisors were beginning to discuss mental health care services and whether the county could remain a stand-alone region instead of joining other counties. Supervisor Chairman Lee Dimmitt said he wanted county mental health services to remain local.
“Sandy [Stever, Central Point of Contact Jefferson County Mental Health Administrator] does a very good job of making sure our clients have access to all the services, locally, regionally and across the state,” he said. “I do wear my biases on my sleeve.”
The county had its initial application to be a stand-alone region rejected. Its second application also failed, and supervisors approved asking to join a neighboring mental health services region.
In other county events in calendar year 2013:
• Less than 19 months after forming a union with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office employees elected to decertify their union effective Monday, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.; 4-non union and three union members make up the bargaining unit.
• Supervisors unanimously approved Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton’s request to raise the jail room and board fee by $10 for county inmates immediately. from $25 per day to $35 per day for time spent in jail since arrest to trial and sentencing.
• Geographic Information System program Friday to the Conference Board and received approval of the assessor’s office annual budget that includes the cost for at a total cost of $59,948, to be shared by the city.
• The Jefferson County Fair Board plans to continue working with sponsorships, keep a free front gate for the annual county fair, and has plans for capital improvements to the fairgrounds. The 2012 Greater Jefferson County Fair brought in a total of $75,027 in receipts, with no admission charged to enter the grounds. Total 2012 fair expenses were $71,869. Annual total receipts of fair and non-fair income was $165,097. Total expenses were $155,551.
• Levy rates for fiscal year 2014. The county tax levy for residents living in incorporated towns will be $7.13, down 11 cents from the current levy of $7.24. The county tax levy for rural residents will decrease 10 cents, from $9.53 now to $9.23 for fiscal year 2014.
• Agreed to follow the Compensation Board’s recommendation for county elected officials’ salaries. The Compensation Board met in December and recommended a 2.5 percent increase in salary for supervisors; a 4 percent increase for all county department heads, except the county attorney. The board recommended a 5 percent increase for the county attorney.
• Jefferson County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to ask county residents to vote Aug. 6 on $1 million toward a new outdoor pool and gym to be built in Fairfield
• Approved giving $3,000 to Fairfield’s RAGBRAI executive committee.
• Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved the county’s 2014 fiscal year $10.6 million budget.
• The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a liquor license for Young and Wild Rodeo Co. to serve beer Saturday night at its rodeo event on Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
• Social host ordinance was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors today, giving law enforcement the ability to impose civil fines on adults hosting a gathering where alcohol is served to minors or providing alcohol to anyone under age 21.
Violations will be a $750 civil fine for first offense and a $1,000 civil fine for second and subsequent offenses.
• a three-year lease of 106 acres of county-owned farmland and awarded the lease to the highest bid, an annual $36,290, or $342.36 per acre per year from J.A. Farm Enterprises.
• The supervisors accepted the purchase offer of $42,500 from Jerry Story for the former county attorney’s office at 117 W. Broadway Ave.
• Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved a sale/transfer agreement for county ambulance vehicles to Midwest Ambulance, the company that contracted to serve Jefferson County in October 2012.
It was a split vote, 2-1. Supervisors Dick Reed and Becky Schmitz approved transferring ownership of the three ambulance vehicles to Midwest and supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt disagreed.