The Fremont County Board of Supervisors discussed a proposed RFP (request for proposals) for contractors for flood debris removal again at their Aug. 7 meeting, but tabled the matter one more time for further modification to the RFP document.
The supervisors decided to create one RFP for the work, but create separate zones in which the work will take place over time.
The supervisors had been debating on an extra long contract term or several separate contracts because they knew some areas would be dried out and roads accessible before others. Deputy Fremont County Engineer Robbie Kromminga said with a long contract, some properties might dry out sooner than others and have debris sitting for long periods of time to be cleared.
Kromminga said he also had concerns the cost would be higher for a long term contract.
Based on this discussion and the advice of Deputy Fremont County Attorney Tyler Loontjer, supervisors agreed to wait another week to discuss the issue and let Loontjer and the county roads department work together to establish zones to be cleared.
Regarding the evacuation order, Fremont County Emergency Management Director Mike Crecelius advised the supervisors nothing had changed south of Highway 2. The supervisors approved retaining the evacuation order for another week, to continue to review it on a week-by-week basis.
Crecelius told supervisors debris removal by the DOT had already begun in Percival the day before the meeting. He assumed the DOT would move north to the other agreed upon sites after finishing in Percival.
Crecelius reminded the supervisors they would have to reach a decision on the demolition program and FEMA buyouts by August 25. The supervisors said they had already approved moving forward with the demolition program in an earlier meeting. Debate and discussion continues regarding FEMA buyouts.
An audience member, Conrad Hall, asked the supervisors if they had an actual figure yet on what the county would lose in taxes if they agreed to a buyout. The supervisors admitted they did not. Hall expressed his unhappiness that the county would consider demolition but not buyouts, and described a scenario in which a little old lady whose house was ruined could get assistance tearing it down but then would be left with nothing. Hall suggested the county freeze county employee wages for 2-3 years if they were so worried about county finances.
Supervisors reminded Hall there was FEMA money to help those whose homes were destroyed, and stated the county was still looking into all options regarding buyouts.
Supervisors approved signing a termination agreement ending the contract between William Blackburn and the county regarding the Green Hollow Nature Center. While Blackburn did not get the supervisors to sign the agreement amendment in which the county would improve the road leading into the property and the DNR would buy it, Blackburn reminded the supervisors by letter that he did expect they would continue to maintain the access road and that the semi-annual music festival was coming up in September.
The supervisors discussed the permitting process for large scale animal confinement operations, and ways to improve communication between the DNR and the county. Supervisor Terry Graham pointed out these companies had to seek permits from the DNR and had to file manure plans with the DNR, and the county should be informed when those processes started.
Supervisor Dustin Sheldon said there were several complaints last year about manure being tracked onto county roads from fields. He said the feeding operation companies should be responsible for cleanup of these spills or messes, rather than the county. Loontjer suggested it should be made clear that companies should understand from the start that if they would be hauling manure on the county’s roads, they could be held responsible for road repair or gravel replacement and cleanup of anything tracked or spilled onto the roadway.
Graham said he had spoken with the DNR and had been told the DNR can’t investigate situations like that without first receiving a report of the incident. He suggested people should call the DNR Spill Hotline at 515-725-8694 anytime they saw manure spills or tracked onto the road, and let the DNR investigate and determine what should be done.
In other business, the supervisors approved:
a RFP for archaeological services for the East /West Nishnabotna Watershed projects;
hiring Kris Henneman as the new Fremont County Golf Course Superintendent, with a start date of August 5;
moving Janice Shanno back to a part-time golf course employee instead of interim superintendent, at a rate of $8.83 per hour;
a resolution to revise the county’s five year road plan, so that shoulder repairs can be made on L-31 and J-34;
the contract with Gus Construction for a culvert on 250th Street east of Thurman, and
a work in right-of-way permit for Windstream Iowa Communications to place copper line under 160th Street to a residence at 3027 160th Street.