Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 22, 2014

Supervisors to review water regulations

By NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS | Aug 04, 2014

Along with the usual news of pothole patching and mowing along the roads, Jefferson County Engineer Scott Cline submitted a proposed governmental House Bill for review at the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting today.

The United States Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act on July 16. According to the National Association of Counties website, the bill would prevent the administration’s proposed “Water’s of the U.S.” from moving forward.

The rule would impact county-owned and maintained roads and roadside ditches, flood control channels, drainage conveyances, storm-water systems and green infrastructure and maintenance.

Cline said that though Jefferson County doesn’t generally flood, that all counties should be concerned.

“Counties that flood may be more concerned than Jefferson,” he said. “All counties could be concerned, but most should be.”

Supervisor Lee Dimmitt said if the law were passed that the government would exercise jurisdiction over ditches and how to clean them, as all ditches are considered tributaries to waterways.

“Anything that’s regulated is going to cost more money,” Dimmitt said. “Also, this takes away local control. We would have to follow whatever regulatory process the Environmental Protection Agency would set up.”

Dimmitt added that the vague wording of the bill along with its broad interpretation spells trouble.

“Folks who haven’t seen a grader ditch are going to regulate how we can clean them,” he said. “It’s just an issue that is cause for concern.”

The public comment period for “Waters of the U.S.” is open until Oct. 20.

In other news, due to the absence of Supervisor Dick Reed, Supervisors Dimmitt and Schmitz decided to table the consideration of its resolution of the financial commitment concerning the AHEAD Regional Housing Trust Fund grant.

“I know that Dick would like to have an input on this,” Dimmitt said.

However, he did mention that the six participating counties had an outstanding obligation of $38,000 to meet their match to RHTF.

If raised, however, that amount would leverage access to $160,000 in additional grant funding divided between the counties.

“It would allow us to maximize,” Dimmitt said. “I would like the see the benefit from it.”

He added that Wapello County would “pony up” the entire amount, but it would expect the lion’s share of the $160,000.

Currently, both Wapello and Jefferson counties have benefitted the most from RHTF funding. Wapello County led submitting 58 applications this fiscal year.

Adam Plagge, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association said that since his arrival in February, he’s seen a rise in Jefferson County applications. He said there have been eight new applicants since he started and another three residents applied recently.

Dimmitt said due to Plagge’s arrival, “the program will just gain steam.”

Jefferson County Veterans’ Affairs Director Ray Chambers said $45,000 of the RHTF grant was used in general relief between rent and utilities.

He added that a family of four could receive a maximum of $550 as long as they meet certain requirements. However, income guidelines for renters vs. owners are different.

Supervisors Dimmitt and Schmitz approved resident Emily Kelly’s zoning agreements to begin building two residential duplexes.

Kelly said that she and her husband wanted to add more housing options in town.

She told Schmitz that the single floor duplexes should make it easier for some residents.

“First floors are important for a lot of the aging in the community,” Kelly said.

The set of two duplexes should be ready for occupation by the spring.

Dimmitt said the Southern Iowa Economic Development Association met to discuss the evaluation of its executive director.

“We discussed that process and how that’s going to be handled,” Dimmitt said.

Now, each board member will evaluate SIEDA Executive Director Ryan Dunn. Dunn will also submit an evaluation on himself.

“It used to be done with the executive committee in the past,” Dimmitt said. “But the chair, Rev. Mark Waite, decided it would be better to include all board members in the evaluation process.“

Schmitz met with South East Iowa Link last week in Mt. Pleasant. Schmitz said that though all eight counties agreed to the management plan, it wasn’t approved yet.

“The mental health management plan wasn’t approved, though we can operate as thought it were,” Schmitz said.

SEAL will have another meeting to discuss official approval next week.

Additionally, Dimmitt and Schmitz approved the hiring of a part-time seasonal employee for the county’s conservation department.

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