Problem delay the opening of county's Fish Creek bridge
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Although Henry County Engineer Bill Belzer originally said that the bridge over Fish Creek would be open by Thanksgiving, it now looks like it will take another week.
The bridge on 310th Street over Fish Creek collapsed in early July 2011, when the southeast footing dropped, causing a slide of at least three feet. The bridge has been closed ever since, forcing area residents and farmers to take a detour until construction is complete.
The project was put out to bid in July 2012, and at the time Belzer said it should be open by Thanksgiving. However, there had been problems with getting the grading contractor to the site, which has delayed the final stages of the project.
“It’s not exactly moving along very fast at this point, but at least the grading contractor is there,” Belzer told the board of supervisors on Tuesday morning during his weekly update.
Belzer noted that the concrete has all been finished, though the concrete contractor has left some equipment behind. Meanwhile, the grading contractor is on site, though not all of their equipment is there.
He said the bridge will hopefully be finished next week.
Belzer also informed the supervisors that his department is starting its second round of nighttime sign inspections.
“It should be a lot smoother,” said Belzer. He also noted that once they get going on a schedule, they should not have to do inspections every year.
According to federal laws, all road signs must meet a minimum reflectivity requirement. In order to test this reflectivity, a person over age 60 must ride around in a pickup truck at night to inspect the signs.
Belzer noted that in the first round of inspections, they were able to find a lot of inconsistencies such as stop signs without a stop ahead sign or dirt roads that intersected paved roads without a stop sign.
In other business, the supervisors heard budget requests from Jim Pedrick of Iowa Wesleyan College and Lennis Moore, CEO of Midwest Old Threshers.
“I’ve said numerous times that the two most important things are Old Threshers and Iowa Wesleyan College. If we were to lose either of those, we’d be scarred,” Supervisor Chairman Kent White commented during Pedrick’s presentation. “It’s a bonus to have a four-year college in your town.”
Pedrick was requesting the county contribute $5,000 from the local option sales tax to IWC’s Henry County campaign.
“We do have a lot of events on campus that attract visitors from out of town,” said Pedrick, referencing homecoming and commencement as the two big events that draw visitors who stay in the area and also eat at area restaurants.
Moore was requesting a total of $20,000. Earlier this year he had requested $15,000, and last week sent a letter to the county asking for an additional $5,000 to help with marketing efforts for Midwest Old Threshers.
He commented that they are focusing on niche markets and also trying to attract a younger audience by updating the website and promoting events through social media.
“It is the future of promoting events,” said Moore.
The supervisors will be taking Pedrick and Moore’s requests into consideration when developing the county’s budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.
In other business the supervisors have received a response from their application to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to re-designate the fenced-in area behind the emergency management building under the HHS rather than the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The HHS has requested some more information to go along with Henry County’s application. They asked for a specific dollar amount that the county spends at the waste collection site at that location.
The county spends $253,948 total on waste collection for rural residents on all of the sites, and County Auditor Shelly Barber said that by looking over the bills from Prottsman Sanitation they should be able to calculate the percentage spent on that site.
HHS also wants sources for the answers provided on the application. Planning and Zoning Director Joe Buffington commented that a letter from the DNR with that information should work.
“I was pleasantly surprised that’s all they came back with,” said White. “It’s encouraging that they’re not throwing it out yet.”
By re-designating the property under the HHS department, the county would be allowed to keep the waste collection site at that location. If it remains under FEMA, then the site would have to be moved or the county would have to purchase the property.