Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 24, 2017

Summer is nearly over, but construction isn’t

Aug 30, 2017

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Although summer is close to a memory, the construction season has not ended.

Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss told the Henry County Supervisors Tuesday that the Iowa Department of Transportation has plans to replace a bridge on U.S. Highway 218 that spans the Skunk River.

Hotchkiss said he was not certain whether replacement work would begin this fall but had a feeling it might. “It may start this fall. They were supposed to have a preconstruction meeting recently with the contractor but it was postponed.” The engineer said bridge replacement work generally takes a year to complete.

Due to the impending bridge work, supervisors passed a resolution designating a temporary detour route during construction. Detours would be on county roads J20 and X23. Hotchkiss said the only ways the detours would be used would be in the event of a traffic accident or emergency. During construction, traffic will be reduced to two lanes on the impacted stretch of 218.

Regarding other construction projects, he said that Winfield Avenue between the overpass bridge on Highway 218 and Grand Avenue is now closed to thru traffic. The subcontractor is working on grading the last one-fourth mile section and then will be placing modified sub-base. A detour has been set for Winfield Avenue from 220th Street, then south on Marsh Avenue to U.S. Highway 34.

Businesses on the stretch of Winfield Avenue affected by construction — the Pilot Travel Center, Detrick’s Truck and Trailer Service, Liquid-Gro, mini-storage, Sandeen’s Pioneer Seeds and East End Automotive — are all open for business and can be accessed from Grand Avenue.

In other construction news, Hotchkiss said country crews have completed over a mile of the shoulder pull work on Benton Avenue and are progressing north on Benton and plan to have another mile completed this week.

Merrimac Road re-opened last Friday following the completion of asphalt work by L.L. Pelling. Pelling also completed sealcoat work in Trenton and on 250th Street south of Mt. Pleasant.

It was report day for the supervisors as Sarah Berndt, county coordinator of disability services/general assistant director, also delivered her monthly report. Berndt said she has approved nine burials for indigents during the current fiscal year. The county funds $2,000 of the cost for burials of qualifying indigents and budgeted for nine burials during fiscal 2018. “It always worries me (having so many burials early in the fiscal year) but in the past it has slowed down later in the year.”

Berndt also advised the board that she wanted to hire a third person for the six-county jail transition program. “Currently, our staff (two employees) are in county jails five days a week and there is no backup if people go to training or are on vacation. “The new hire would focus on two or three county jails, provide backup for the other two employees and focus on housing.”

She said that county sheriffs have told her that offenders have difficulty finding housing after release from jail.

Marc Lindeen, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said he thought the decision was not up to the supervisors. “If the sheriffs want it and endorse it, it will be taken to the governing board (of the Southeast Iowa Link, the multi-county regional mental health delivery system). That’s the way I see it. If SEIL endorses it, I have no problem with it.”

“I agree with you,” added Supervisor Gary See. “That is a SEIL decision.”

Berndt said she would move forward with her plans and seek input from the county sheriffs. “If they favor it, I will bring it to the SEIL board,” she remarked.

Three county department heads — Treasurer Ana Lair, Recorder Shirley Wandling and Assessor Gary Dustman — visited with the supervisors, requesting consideration of a full-time IT person who would work regular business hours at the courthouse. Currently, the county’s IT needs are serviced by Derek Wellington, who comes to work at 6 a.m. and departs mid-day.

Lair noted that a full-time IT person has been discussed before. “We’ve waited a long time for something to happen,” she said.

Supervisor Greg Moeller asked if the county IT person is responsive to employees’ needs when the system is malfunctioning.

“I have to ask several times,” Lair answered. “The IT person should be available to walk us through problems.”

Wandling said if an IT person was on duty during business hours at the courthouse, it would be very beneficial. “To me, an IT person has to be in the building during normal working hours,” she said. “Many of our IT issues could be resolved quickly if we had an IT person in the building. ... Is it too much to ask for the IT department to be here during normal business hours?”

See said the decision was made to allow the IT person to come in early “because he could get more done with nobody around.”

Supervisors said they will consider the department heads’ concerns and get back to them.

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