Jacob Hotchkiss will be the Henry County engineer
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Current Washington County Assistant Engineer Jacob Hotchkiss has accepted the position of Henry County engineer.
Supervisor Chairman Gary See announced Thursday morning that an offer has been extended to Hotchkiss, who has verbally accepted the offer.
A contract and official start date will follow at a later date, said See, though he noted it would probably be sometime in August.
According to information found on the Washington County website, Hotchkiss began working with Washington County as a summer intern in 2002. He joined the department as an assistant engineer after earning his bachelor of science in construction engineering in December 2004 from Iowa State University.
There had been eight applicants for the county engineer position.
In other business during Thursday’s board of supervisors meeting, Planning and Zoning Administrator Joe Buffington expressed his concern over growing piles of junk and junk vehicles on several properties in Henry County.
He brought in some recent aerial photographs taken of the county this past spring, and by comparing the 2013 pictures to the 2009 pictures of the same properties, the piles are growing.
“This pictography has made it pretty obvious we’re going in the wrong direction,” said Buffington. “It kind of shows the proliferation of junk.”
Much of the junk is old vehicles or appliances such as washers, though there is plenty of other miscellaneous garbage lying around, noted Buffington.
What he considers the top 10 worst properties have a combined 800-1,000 vehicles. The worst property has 300 alone.
“Basically, they’re a junkyard as far as our ordinance,” said Buffington. “They fit the definition of a junkyard.”
Being of junkyard status means these counties are in violation of the law — both on the county level and with the Department of Natural Resources. Junk vehicles leak gas and oil into the ground.
Buffington said that he has sent letters to some of the properties in the past, and the arrangement has always been that if the piles are shrinking, he doesn’t go after them.
However, with the piles growing he was looking for some direction from the supervisors on how to proceed.
“When I see these piles growing, I don’t feel like I’m doing my job,” he said.
While there has been no official course of action determined yet, Buffington suggested sending letters to problem properties notifying them that they have a certain length of time to clean up the property.
The important thing is to then follow up on the letters.
“It’s going to end up being a concerted effort on the county’s part,” said Buffington, noting that in some cases it could go to court.
He said he would probably start sending letters to the properties with the most amount of junk first and then proceed down the list.
The supervisors also:
• Approved a funding request for $2,250 to the Henry/Washington Early Childhood Area Board.
• Approved a two-year agreement of services between Henry County, Henry County Public Health and Henry County Health Center.
• Approved a resolution for an appropriations transfers of $9,634 and $23,407 and a resolution to transfer $1,106,292 from property taxes from rural basic to the secondary road department.
• Held a public hearing and tabled the third reading of a request by Jerry Dupree to rezone all of parcel of land at the southeast corner of Highway 34 and 260th street by New London from A-1 to C-1 until 9:30 a.m. on July 9. The supervisors still need information from Interim County Engineer Clarence Perry and the Department of Transportation regarding a right of way.