News

Floods not hurt Jefferson County as much as surrounding counties

Jefferson County Emergency Management and 911 Coordinator Brett Ferrel was invited to Monday’s Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss disaster preparedness and answer county residents’ questions about restorations taking place after the heavy spring rains and swollen waterways through the county are lowering back into their channels.

At a recent meeting in Mt. Pleasant, Jefferson County Supervisors Lee Dimmitt and Dee Sandquist heard from supervisors in surrounding counties about what is taking place after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds had declared those counties disaster areas, allowing their constituents to receive financial aid with roads and other concerns.

The board asked Ferrel if Jefferson County would be eligible for assistance with any of its roads or the Skunk River Bridge once it has been assessed. Ferrel noted that Jefferson County is the highest one above sea level in southeast Iowa, and therefore it does not sustain the high levels of damage as the others do. Jefferson County did not meet the state’s threshold for damages.

Sandquist asked about grant assistance, and Ferrel advised there is information for individual homeowners or businesses with income levels at or below $42,000 to file applications for $5,000 grants. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website. Applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. Dimmitt encourages property owners and businesses in the county to report damages to emergency management or the county engineer, and expressed his concern that those living near Batavia or Mac Coon Access might still be making assessments and need assistance in their recovery. Ferrel said he and the board can definitely talk about the damages to the roadways so that reports may be sent in to the state to get financial assistance.

County engineer

Jefferson County has experienced the first pavement blow ups this summer on the Brookville Road according to Jefferson County Engineer Scott Cline. Friday saw the completion of a turn-around road surface on county conservation land at Mint Boulevard and Highway 34. Cline shared pictures taken as the new bridge deck was poured Thursday.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is considering the detour which will possibly be routed along V63, 220th Street north of Packwood, and Highway 1. The DOT will help fund restoration of these more heavily used county roads after the detour is finished, the estimation being around $24,000.

The DOT will soon come to view the bridge area with Cline because a limit of weight or size might be necessary for trucks using the bridge on that detour. Times under discussion for this road work are either June 24-28 or July 8–12. Also, bids for road patching will begin June 27, and bids for asphalt on road projects will begin July 1.

Confusing street sign

County Supervisor Daryn Hamilton and Cline met with Fairfield’s City Administrator Aaron Kooiker and City Engineer Melanie Carlson to discuss confusion caused by a green street sign and post within city limits while they were trying to locate one of the county nuisance case properties near the former LISCO Building in the 1700 block of South Main Street.

Both the city and the county engineers researched the origins of this non-standard sized post with a green sign which indicates West Palm Drive. These city and county officials discussed the options of changing the green sign to a blue one or to remove the sign post completely.

The four of them discussed how to handle responsibilities when the city and county share a road. In particular, the four talked about the Crow Creek Bridge east of Chautauqua Park along East Burlington Avenue.

Committee reports

Supervisor Dee Sandquist reported South East Iowa Link met with the Optimae Chief Operations Officer about payment concerns and called for submitted claims to be sent to the financial agent no later than the Friday prior to the monthly SEIL meeting so they may be submitted and paid in a timely manner. The SEIL board approved the contracts of service providers for the next fiscal year.

Hillcrest is not signing a contract because the New County Officers of Iowa State Association of Counties would not negotiate the services. The SEIL board representing Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Van Buren and Washington counties has sent a letter to Director Jerry Foxhoven of Iowa Department of Human Services voicing concerns about additional core services mandated through House Files 2456 and 690 without appropriate financial legislation to carry out those services in the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

Supervisor Daryn Hamilton attended the Eighth Judicial District’s board meeting which was held at the Ottumwa Residential Center. He reported the board was disappointed in the state and the Department of Corrections placing more contract restrictions on what Director Dan Fell can do as he coordinates client populations. Fell has no opportunity to request any changes to this limiting contract. If he doesn’t sign it as it is, he will not receive the $8 million dollars needed for this next fiscal year. The authority is now resting in Des Moines with someone who is not in contact with the people served.

The board made the appointment of Dr. Brian Quinn as County Medical Examiner.