Engineer says drivers ignoring ?enter at your own risk? signs

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met Monday to discuss a number of topics with the county engineer along with other current business.

Also of interest was a speculative discussion about a potential county sports complex.

Conversation with county engineer Scott Cline began with an examination of the current contract-based hauling of rock for county roads, which mandates regular deliveries of rock even when it might not be immediately needed. The board discussed the county hauling its own rock on an as needed basis and asked the engineer for a cost-benefit analysis and a proposal if savings and efficiency were demonstrated.

Next up was an examination of options for improving, gating or closing portions of 223rd Street, Hackberry Way and 220th Street between Hemlock and Libertyville Road. Certain stretches of these roads run through private property via easements and property owners have expressed concerns.

?Drivers are using their GPS and just ignoring these signs warning of gravel ending, ?class B road? and ?enter at your own risk.? There are semis and cars coming through there plunging into the mud and wanting people to pull them out all the time,? Cline said, illustrating the problem.

The area was included on the supervisors? road tour for a closer look and follow-up discussion.

Finally, acquisition of two pieces of equipment for the county road department came under consideration. The board approved a Bull Hog Excavator Mulcher for quickly mulching trees and heavy brush, and a Shulte Series 4 Rotary Cutter for mowing heavy brush and grass.

The cost for the mulching attachment is $39,879 after trading-in one of the county?s wood chippers, and the unit is rated for severe-duty, low maintenance and exceptionally long tool life. The unit can be lifted over a tree and then quickly mulch it from the top down eliminating the need for workers to climb all but the tallest trees and use chainsaws.

?This looks to me to be a safer method of operation and it looks like you can be much more precise with this,? said supervisor Lee Dimmitt.

The cost for the rotary cutter is $23,730 and the unit is targeted at demanding rural terrain and brush. It features an advanced suspension system which reduces stress on both the cutter and the tractor which pulls it. This in turn reduces required maintenance intervals and costs.

The mulcher attachment is to be purchased from Murphy Tractor and Equipment of Des Moines, while the rotary cutter will be purchased from J.J. Nichting Co. of Pilot Grove and Mt. Pleasant.

Dimmitt also mentioned a new partnership between Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) and Henry County involving inspections. RUSS will be paid $58,500 annually to do this service subject to modification after the first six months due to additional costs of office space and equipment which Henry County is unable to provide. (This story originally reported that Jefferson County would receive the money. It is in fact RUSS)

?We have officially signed a contract with Henry County where we are now handling all of their sanitary and pool inspections, tattoo shops, hotels and such, same as we do for Louisa County,? Dimmitt explained.

Dimmitt then recounted a recent meeting with local residents at Fairfield High School regarding the Babe Ruth League losing its baseball field in June and needing to find a new place to play. While the conversation on this matter is just beginning, O.B. Nelson Park is under consideration as a possible short-term solution.

The conversation then turned toward what would be involved in creating a sports complex for the county to accommodate both baseball and softball, and be suitable for state tournaments. Board members talked about how it could impact the economy and the county?s ability to attract young families.

Finally, the supervisors held a working meeting Monday afternoon after their road tour to consider the nuisance property ordinance. While the board finds the ordinance is appropriate and consistent with the Iowa Code, there is room for improvement on implementation.

?We are going to work on the procedure related to nuisances to include more information about the potential consequences of violations in the first letter to the property owner, and have a consistent timeline for the second notice if the nuisance is not resolved,? said Supervisor Dee Sandquist.

Sandquist also wished to remind residents to keep rubbish and other items out of the county right-of-way and to contact the county engineer for questions about the right-of-way.