Conservation director laments about winter weather's impact
By MEGAN COOPER
Mt. Pleasant News
“It seems like we are having to cancel everything,” said Henry County Conservation executive director John Pullis during Thursday’s Henry County Board of Supervisor’s meeting. “Everything is buried in snow.”
According to Pullis, there was supposed to be a maple syrup demonstration March 8, but due to the weather, it was canceled.
“The syrup isn’t flowing and the camp is buried in snow,” said Pullis. “Along with that, we are having a hunter’s education course next weekend, but they may cancel the live shooting portion because of the snow. Other than that, we’ve been doing snow removal and finally finished our calendar of events, which we will get out soon.”
Walt Jackson from Henry County emergency management told the board about an upcoming program.
“We are going to be doing a tractor rollover training next Tuesday (March 11) and on Wednesday (March 19),” Jackson told the board. “It’s a two part training and we are going to have other counties come watch as well, Lee, Washington, etc. are excited to come see how we are doing our countywide training. Countywide training has benefited our fire department and our mutual aid has gone up because of it.
“Conservation, sheriff’s department and police department are coming as well, since they are usually the first ones on the scene. They need to know what to do in that situation. Farm Bureau will be providing the meal for those participating, Shottenkirk is providing refreshments and Dave’s Towing will be helping us with the towing of the tractors. It’s becoming a community event. We are also inviting farmers to this event, as they will come across this as well and they can pick up tips to use,” explained Jackson.
Jackson stated that dinner will begin around 5 p.m., followed by the classroom portion at 6 p.m. and then the training will begin around 7 p.m.
“We had our dispatcher resign,” said Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee during his report to the board. “Laurie Hutchinson will be leaving the department and we asked one of our part-timers to move up to her position. Hopefully by the middle of the month we can have that position filled.”
Jackson told the board that there will be a retirement party for Hutchinson at the emergency management building on March 14.
“The population of the jail is good and is in the mid 20s. We haven’t seen that in awhile,” McNamee joked. “We our latest squad car up and ready to go. It’s a Dodge truck. Also, our new building is about 77-80 percent done, just waiting on the frost to thaw so they can finish. Finally, we are about 9 percent under budget,” McNamee added.
The Henry County Recorder’s Office will be closed on March 27, due to staff training.
In other news, the board discussed the meal allowances and gratuities for meeting reimbursements. The board agreed to raise overnight meeting allowances to $45 a day, and for day meetings, $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, $20 for dinner and adding gratuities to the reimbursement as well.
“What we had before just wasn’t enough,” explained Henry County Auditor Shelly Barber. “Adding gratuities is just what other counties do as well.”
The board agreed with Barber, stating that the original $8 for breakfast, $10 for lunch, $17 for supper and no gratuities just wasn’t enough anymore.
Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss informed the board of a bridge closure that will be taking place today (Thursday).
“It won’t be a major impact as it’s a level B road, but some who use it as a shortcut will notice,” began Hotchkiss. “We are going to be closing 230th Street, just west of Benton Avenue. Those who travel it often knew it was coming as the condition of the bridge has been deteriorating.
“We will get it done as soon as we can. We just have to figure out what we are going to with the structure and decide what we want to put there,” explained Hotchkiss. “I also want to thank the public again for the patience with us and thank the guys for what they are doing. We are trying to keep the morale up and they are doing a great job. I just want to remind the public that with the temperatures warming up, we will have messy gravel roads again. We are working to do the best we can.”
The Henry County Board of Supervisors meet again Wednesday, March 12, at 9 a.m., due the board being gone on Tuesday (March 11) to a Veteran Affairs District meeting in Iowa City and Thursday to Friday (March 13 to 14) for the ISAC Spring School of Instruction in Des Moines. The supervisors will meet in the board room of the courthouse.