Henry County Supervisors approve wheel loader purchase
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Henry County’s engineering department will be receiving a 2016 Caterpillar wheel loader in the very near future.
County supervisors, during their regular meeting Tuesday, approved the purchase from Altenhofer Equipment of Cedar Rapids. The county will pay $116,952 after trade for the new machinery.
Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss said the decision on which brand of wheel loader to purchase was a difficult one.
“I was looking at two different brands, but decided on the Caterpillar because we have a service record and received good service from them,” Hotchkiss explained. “It also fits in well with the other equipment we have.”
The wheel loader has a 12-month premier warranty and an 84-month power train and hydraulics warranty.
In his construction update, the engineer said work has been completed on the bridge replacement (with culverts) on 140th Street and Hickory Avenue. “We opened 140th Street Friday, now both roads are open to traffic.”
Plans for the reconstruction of Winfield Avenue from Grand Avenue to the Highway 218 overpass were submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation Monday for review. Hotchkiss said he would be hosting a meeting next week with business owners located within project limits (approximately one mile) for planning purposes.
“After we let the bid, we will have a meeting with the residents and contractor,” he stated.
Regarding two other projects, he said that the rock-crushing operation at the county quarry is nearing the midway point. The territory shed on Oasis Avenue is nearly complete. All that remains is for the electrical contractor to finish running wires and a few other small items.
The engineering department will also present service awards in the near future to Keith Kimbrough (45 years of service); Jelen McCall (25 years of service); and Tracy Sammons (15 years of service).
Last week’s work by the secondary roads department included mowing brush on the shoulders of gravel roads; working on signs; clearing brush on 325th Street for a ditching project; and clearing a downed tree in Lowell that was blocking county road J20.
Sarah Berndt, county coordinator of disability services/general assistance director, gave her monthly report to the supervisors.
Berndt said in the last month the department helped fund two burials which leaves funding for seven burials during the remainder of the fiscal year and also aided a resident with a past-due utilities bill.
Most of Berndt’s report concerned the regional mental health group. She discussed with the supervisors a state report of the regional health system.
Berndt said it is difficult, if not impossible to please the state. “The Iowa DHS (Department of Human Services) was complaining that the regions are not talking among themselves. However, no matter what we do, the state is going to find a problem. We are still focusing on local control because what we levy helps people here at home.”
She also was critical of the state for not giving regions a unified action plan to implement. “What does the state want? Whatever we do is not good enough. One of the problems is the state is not giving us any guidance on what to do.”
Berndt also talked about the need for some type of agreement for the post-booking community transition program serving Des Moines, Henry, Lee, Keokuk, Louisa and Washington counties.
The transition link utilizes a screening process during booking into jail to identify individuals who may benefit from the program or through referrals from jail staff. Transition link then works with individuals to identify a discharge plan and coordinate access to behavioral health and other support services for those individuals who will be leaving the jail and returning to their home community.
A 28E agreement is not necessary, Berndt said, but she said that some type of contract or memorandum of understanding would be useful.
“The six counties agree that there has to be some type of agreement or contract but are not sure what type,” she stated.
Since Henry County is the contract-holder on the program, Berndt said that Darin Stater, Henry County attorney, is being sought for advice or an opinion.
“It is our entity, so it should be our county attorney’s opinion,” Berndt remarked. “I sent a memorandum of understanding for him to review. We just need to execute the right type of document.”
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, supervisors will not meet Thursday. Their next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 9 a.m., in the Henry County Courthouse.