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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 15, 2017

Van Buren appoints special assistant county attorney to prosecute case

By Rusty Ebert, Ledger correspondent | Nov 30, 2017

KEOSAUQUA – The Van Buren County Board of Supervisors approved the appointment of H. Craig Miller as assistant county attorney to prosecute an alleged encroachment on county-owned property in Douds.

The county has been involved with possible settlement talks with the owner of a mobile home that is on county-owned property, but the talks have broken down, according to Mark Meek, chairman of the board of supervisors.

The reason for the appointment was due to a potential conflict of interest of Van Buren County Attorney Virginia Barchman and Van Buren County Assistant Attorney Terri Quartucci, as well as the actual conflict of interest of the formerly elected county attorney, Abraham Watkins.

Barchman said it was her recommendation to approve Miller’s appointment to give the process some continuity to the end, as the supervisors do not know how the Iowa Supreme Court will rule on Watkins’s removal appeal.

In other news:

• Supervisors accepted the retirement of deputy John Zane, effective Dec. 9.

• Supervisors approved the hiring of Julie Williams as part-time assistant Veterans Affairs/General Assistance director, with hours not to exceed 22 hours per week at $13.25 per hour.

• Supervisors approved the hiring of Sam Schilb, Batavia, for equipment operator II effective Dec. 11 at a rate of $17.68/hour per union contract.

• The board approved a two-year engineering agreement with Kirkham Michael for bridge inspection services.

• The board approved a resolution on bridge embargoes as recommended by Kirkham Michael’s after the latest round of bridge inspections.

• The supervisors approved purchasing a Bobcat T870 skid loader at a cost of $74,476.44. The supervisors will sell the existing skid loader at a sealed bid with a reserve of $21,000. The existing skid loader does not meet the needs of the highway department, according to county engineer Ryne Thornburg. “Our present skid loader is a wheeled machine with some steel over the wheel tracks. While the over-the-wheel tracks do make for an improvement, they are lacking compared to a tracked machine,” Thornburg told supervisors. “Additionally, the hydraulic capabilities prevent the current skid loader from being able to run a brush head or even adequately run the asphalt milling head that the county presently owns.”

Thornburg said county workers narrowed down their interest to Caterpillar, Kubota and Bobcat and received five quotes. They priced the Bobcat at two different dealerships, Rexco Equipment and Wiss and Wiss Equipment, Inc. Wiss and Wiss didn’t include the full forestry package. There were other issues regarding the Wiss and Wiss bid, Thornburg said.

Thornburg’s recommendation was to purchase the Bobcat T870 from Rexco Equipment and sell the existing skid loader by sealed bid. Thornburg said a county resident expressed interest in the machine and because of that, he recommended selling by sealed bid at a reserve price that was offered as a trade-in.

Supervisors authorized the county engineer to sell a county owned Bobcat 300 skid loader by sealed bid with the bid deadline of Dec. 21, bids being delivered to the VBC Secondary Road department with a 10 percent bid bond check or cash, and with a $21,000 reserve on said bids.

Thornburg said that operators demonstrated a number of brush heads for a skid loader and agreed that a FECON brush head was the best in their opinion. The cost of the FECON brush head from Murphy Tractor and Equipment is $28,200.

He is also considering a slightly used model and is getting a quote for that. Supervisors approved an allowance for the brush head up to $28,200.

Thornburg updated the board on the new equipment budget.

The supervisors approved a budget of $450,000. From that, the county has a debt liability of $85,013.28 from two John Deere motor graders. Earlier this year, supervisors approved the purchase of Kubota tractors totaling $104,996 and a Volvo semi in the amount of $99,357.81. The purchase of the Bobcat, along with the brush head means that the remaining budget after the purchase is $59,956.47. That doesn’t include the sale of the skid loader if by sealed bid. At the reserve price, that brings the total remaining in the budget to $81,000.

• Supervisors set Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. for a public hearing on vacating Gray Avenue, where Gray Avenue fully enters the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 6, township 70 and range 10 west thence north to the north section line of said Section 6, all within Van Buren County. It borders Jefferson County. Thornburg said the vacation was at the request of the surrounding landowner, Mark Finley, who recently purchased the land. The road is currently a level B road.

• Thornburg said the county will send a letter to a property owner on the northwest side of Bentonsport, who is encroaching on county-owned property.

• Thornburg said the J40 asphalt resurfacing project is completed.

• Meek discussed with Thornburg certain debris needs to be picked up including cones, chunks of blacktop and other items along roadway.

• Pathfinders RC&D executive director Anna Bruen was present to update the board on programs administered through Pathfinders RC&D.

• The meeting adjourned at 11 a.m. for a closed labor negotiation strategy session with county negotiator via phone, county auditor, and county engineer until 1:15 p.m.

• Supervisors will discuss and take action on the master matrix on Dec. 11.

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