Fairfield Ledger
https://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1737081

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 25, 2018

County hopes to refurbish Mediacom tower

Property owners ask county to vacate dirt road because so many drivers stuck in mud
By Jon Gilrain, Ledger correspondent | Apr 03, 2018

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met Monday to hear from residents about vacating a portion of 223rd Street and a proposal from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office about refurbishing the 750-foot Mediacom tower for communications in the county.

 

Tower

Sheriff Gregg Morton presented a proposal to put the Mediacom tower into use for the county’s law enforcement, fire and ambulance services. The tower stands taller than the currently used tower at the courthouse and would extend the communication range for public services in remote areas.

The proposal included an application for grant money through the Washington County Riverboat Foundation’s competitive grant program which provides grants for community-based initiatives and is open to area counties. The program draws on the proceeds from the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. Other grants and funding sources are to be considered as well.

“We’re asking for more than the casino can give so we’re dealing with their foundation [WCRF] that deals with larger amounts of money,” said Morton.

Upgrades to the tower would include new antenna systems with associated cabling and connectors, new electronics, new backup generator, grounding for the tower and shelter, and labor for installation, totaling $94,100.

The county acquired the tower about three years ago from Mediacom. Due to a disagreement at the time with the Federal Communications Commission, the county was unable to apply for certain emergency management grants which are no longer available.

The board approved a motion to apply for a grant with the WCRF. Whether Jefferson County receives an award and for how much will determine next steps in refurbishing the tower.

County Engineer Scott Cline reported to the board on the week’s activities including blading gravel roads, brush cutting, culvert installation and ditching. The secondary roads department also patched potholes and did rock hauling.

 

Dirt road

Monday’s board meeting also included a public hearing on vacating a portion of 223rd Street and was attended by property owners Andrew and Sandy Fiedler who are urging the board to approve the vacation and gating of the road.

The section of road runs through their property and changes from gravel to dirt. In wet weather, the dirt turns to mud. The couple, who have owned the property since 1993, report that numerous drivers from out of town are directed by their GPS apps to take the road and frequently get stranded in the mud or drive off the road.

“We would like to see that road no longer accessible to the public. Right now, we get a lot of people stuck on that road and most of the time they’re either out of county or out of state,” said Andrew Fiedler. “They fly down that road. It used to be random high school kids, but now it’s always out of towners. We had a 53 foot semi trailer last year [that got] buried.”

The couple went on to describe how, while even with appropriate signage, the transition to dirt and often mud takes place over a hill and is not anticipated by people unfamiliar with the area. And even when it is, people still take the hill at high speed.

“Some people think that when the sign reads ‘Gravel Ends’ that it’s somehow going to turn to pavement again,” Sandy Fiedler explained. “Some people stop and look though, and then they floor it.”

The fact that a potential detour would add several miles to an otherwise through-road left the board unable to come to a consensus on the issue.

Supervisor Dick Reed was unconvinced that vacating and gating the section of road was a good idea.

Sandy Fiedler responded to Reed’s objections.

“It is a convenience for some people, but for us it is a quality of life thing. Compared to how traveled it is, I think the inconvenience and the money spent on maintaining it far outweighs how much it’s used and why it’s used,” she said.

Supervisor Lee Dimmitt was reluctant to decide the issue without more opportunity for public feedback. The board decided for more discussion and approved another public hearing scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 23.

Speaking to the need for another hearing Dimmitt recalled, “There was a road that we gated at the property owner’s request, and we had one public hearing. Well, lots of folks came out of the woodwork once it was gated because they used that road as a connector and all of a sudden they couldn’t get from point A to point B. We, the board, learned a hard lesson because we discovered that we couldn’t undo what we did.”

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.