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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Supervisors discuss resurfacing project near Bentonsport

By Rusty Ebert, Ledger correspondent | Sep 21, 2017

KEOSAUQUA – The Van Buren County Board of Supervisors discussed a situation in the Veterans Affairs and General Assistance office following a resignation and also the J40 resurfacing project near Bentonsport in a meeting September 15. The board also canvassed last week’s school board elections.

Veterans Affairs/GA director Susan Frey was present to submit her resignation from her position. Veterans commission board members Julie Williams, Robert Clark, and Sam Wenke were also present to discuss future options for a new director and hours of operation.

• Van Buren Supervisors accepted the resignation of Susan Frey effective September 22. Her resignation letter, dated Sept. 15, read as follows:

“Board of Supervisors:

As we discussed and I recommended on March 13th, 2017, I was willing and able to work the state mandated 22.5 hours for Veterans Affairs and 9.5 additional hours for General Assistance for a total of 32 hours per week. My request was denied. I verbally stated this office could not be run effectively with two part-time people on March 13 of this year and this has proven to be correct. In the meantime I have citizens contacting me on my personal cell phone asking me why the office is not open and why the level of service our residents have come to expect has dwindled. From day one I have tried to do a good job in my role as director, providing the empathy and caring that our Veterans and the poor among us so badly need.

Effective Sept. 22, 2017, I resign my position as Director of Veterans Affairs.

Respectively dubmitted,

Susan Frey.”

Frey told the supervisors that there was no current job description for the director and that’s one thing they should do in the future. She also reiterated that she has concerns on the office hours.

Veterans Affairs officials asked the board to see if there was another option to increase the hours open to the public. One suggestion, by supervisors, was to have another county employee available in a different office. However, it was pointed out that to answer Veterans Affairs questions, that person needed to be certified, said Julie Williams, commissioner.

“They couldn’t make a decision because they are not certified,” Williams said.

Frey mentioned one example of a person whose electricity was being cut off and came into the office for assistance. However, the office was closed.

“They came in Monday and couldn’t reach us until Thursday,” Frey said.

“I understand their plight and really want to help these people, but I’m sure they knew ahead of time that their power is going to be cut off. It’s kinda like your lack of planning doesn’t make it an emergency on my part,” said supervisor Bob Waugh.

Frey said companies typically give 10 day notices, but many people don’t act until right before the deadline. She said while she understood Waugh’s point, there is still the problem of the office being closed periodically when those calls come in and usually the General Assistance office can work with utilities.

Consensus was to form a subcommittee of the board of supervisors and veterans board to review job description, hours of operation, and other related items.

• A public hearing date of Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m. was set for a public hearing on amendments to the 2018FY county budget. The amendment adds $224,500 in expenditures and $84,000 for revenues. Much of the amendment is due to pass through grants, but there has been an increase in purchase and repair of equipment (hail damage to sheriff vehicles) additional election expenses, court costs, mental health and juvenile detention expenses. The county went over the line item in medical examiners due to the autopsy of an infant that cost several thousands of dollars. The mother has been charged with child endangerment resulting in death.

• Van Buren County Engineer Ryne Thornburg was present to update the board on the following projects including discussion and approval of Plans and Specifications for Project # BROS-CO89(92)--5F-89, Bridge Replacement on Quail Road over Bear Creek, approval of installation of sign on J12 east of Birmingham indicating the entry into the Lower Skunk River Watershed, discussion and possible approval of the replacement of one or two mower tractors, semi tractor, and discussion on Upgrading Area Service Level B roads to Area Service Level A.

• Thornburg discussed the issue of the road work on J40 near Bentonsport, which has caused the temporary closing of a section of that road.

He said for some reason the previous engineer did not take core samples in Bentonsport and it was thought that the road base was eight inches. It was that information that was used when it was sent to the DOT for letting for resurfacing. However, Thornburg said “it’s more like four inches, not eight inches.”

Norris Asphalt must do patching in segments. Thornburg also said the base is not good in parts and that needed attention, as well.

“It’s a tremendous cost liability to the county to keep the road open for traffic. It would be a disaster,” Thornburg said.

He is pushing contractors to have the road done and open by the Scenic Drive Festival.

Thornburg said that there will be December lettings for four bridge replacements, 180th over Rock Creek, 120th over Stump Creek, 118th over Stump Creek and Quail Road over Bear Creek.

Thornburg said action by the previous engineer threatened the county with losing some bridge replacement money, so that would be why thereis a significant number of bridges being replaced next year. Thornburg said Willis Cox signed an easement allowing for that bridge to go to letting over Stump Creek.

Thornburg presented quotes for two mower tractors. On the recommendation of the county engineer, the engineer was authorized to purchase two Kabota mower tractors from Wiss & Wiss Equipment, Inc. of Kahoka, MO, in the amount of $104,996.

Supervisor Waugh said he had been getting concerns from patrons over new equipment purchases, even though he voted for the purchase.

Thornburg said this year’s budget allows for up to $450,000 in purchases. The supervisors approved borrowing money for motor grader purchases, which costs $100,000 per year.

“They want to know why are we spending money when we borrowed money on the John Deere graders and when roads needed attention,” Waugh said.

Thornburg added “if you don’t have equipment when you need to get the job done or if they are broke down when you need them, that’s not a good situation.

“If the people have complaints about the roads, they are not calling us. We need to know. We haven’t had a tremendous amount of complaints this year.

“We have fallen behind from previous engineers in equipment.”

Thornburg said they are looking at ways to pare down some equipment in the fleet.

“Right now we have 14 dump trucks and we are looking at getting that number down.”

Thornburg also presented quotes to replace one of the secondary road semis.

“The Mack semi has 445,000 miles on it and is nearing the end of its life,” Thornburg said. “The Volvo semi has 600,000 miles. Our mechanic recommends that the Mack be replaced ahead of the Volvo.”

Thornburg said he obtained three quotes, one for a Mack that cost $91,000, another from Western Star at $95,816 and one for a Volvo at $99,354.

He said no action was necessary at the meeting and the issue could be tabled.

Thornburg said there had been a request to bring a Level B road up to Level A on Nova Avenue, north of 280th. County will provide landowners an estimate on what they would have to pay.

• The board approved Plans and Specifications for Project # BROS-CO89(92)--5F-89, Bridge Replacement on Quail Road over Bear Creek. Cost estimate is $547,000.

• The board approved installation of a sign on J12 east of Birmingham indicating the entry into the Lower Skunk River Watershed.

• The board approved the canvass of the September 12, 2017 regular school election with the following declared elected in the Harmony and Van Buren Community School District: HARMONY COMMUNTIY SCHOOL DISTRICT-Director District #3-William Cline, Director District #5-Daniel Smith. A total of 52 voted (3 percent). VAN BUREN COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT-Director District #1-Terry Jester, Director District #2-Cindy Lowe, Director District #3-Steven E. Kisling, Director District at Large-Sheila K. Parsons. Proposition A-131/2 cent PERL levy: Yes-237, No-208-Passed. A total of 464 voted (14 percent).

• The board chairman was authorized to sign an Amendment to the South Iowa Area Crime Commission Joint agreement with the following amendments to an existing agreement: Article 1-Name, Section 1. Name. The official name of this organization shall be the South Iowa Area Crime Commission, Article V-Purpose, Section 1. Purpose. The purpose of this agreement is to create an Area Crime Commission Service Agency for the purpose of assisting governmental bodies within the area in developing plans, reviewing grant requests, making recommendations to the appropriate state agencies, providing fiscal accountability, assisting with law enforcement endeavors, providing training to law enforcement and correctional officers of member governmental agencies, assisting with the preparation of standard operating policies and procedures for law enforcement, correctional facilities and dispatch services, fire training and auditing and any other services that would assist said governmental agencies in the implementation of law enforcement services within each member county and remaining in compliance with state and federal regulations.

• On the recommendation of the county conservation aboard, Brandi Brown-Liles, Douds, was appointed as a PT Greef Store clerk, effective August 29, 2017, at a salary of $8.45/hour. The vote was 2-1, with Waugh voting no.

• William Cline was present to discuss a grant application for a Lucas Assist Device funded through the Leona and Harry B. Helmsley Foundation to be used by the VBC Hospital and Farmington EMS ambulance services. Supervisors approved having Van Buren County apply for said grant. Cline also said that the Farmington EMS raised over $16,000 from its latest fundraiser for the new ambulance.

• Discussion was held regarding notice that was given concerning the removal of private property placed on county owned land in Douds.

• The county treasurer was authorized to assess special assessment liens against the following property owners in the former city of Mt. Sterling for delinquent sewer accounts: 1) Kimmarie Robison (parcel #000451507278120)-$522.80, 2) Brad Smith (parcel #000451507251210)-$168.70, 3) John Smith (parcel #000451507251115)-$168.70, 4) Donald Butner (parcel #000451507283130)-$59.54, 5) William Kerr (parcel #000451507283130)-$54.58, 6) Linda Van Gorkom (parcel #000451507226100)-$99.24.

Board members reported on various committee meetings held including Heartland Insurance seminar, Milestone, RUSS, SEIL, Children First.

Fiscal year-end financial information was reviewed with the board by the county auditor. Deputy county auditor Lisa Plecker was also present.

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