Supervisors hear update on Conservation projects

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Supervisors took in a new setting for their Aug. 21 meeting. The board conducted their meeting at Central Park in the Nature Center.

     One of the items on the agenda was hearing an update from Conservation Director Brad Mormann on the projects throughout the county.

     First and foremost is the Lake Restoration Project. Mormann said 80 percent of that project has been completed to date, which includes work on the beach area. One addition to that overall project is curb and butter to divert water away from the beach.

     The fishing accesses, Mormann said, are roughly 50 percent completed.

     So when will the lake be full? Depending on how you look at it, Mormann they’ve been fortunate and unfortunate as far as rainfall.

     “We seem to always be on the lower end,” said Mormann of the recent rainfall amounts. He said the less rain the better for construction, but that just means it’ll take longer for the lake to fill.

     With the lake project in the works, Mormann shared that the camping figures have been down, or 61 percent of what they saw in 2016.

     “But folks are excited for next year,” he said, “once the water is back up.” Mormann felt it might take a few more years to get the fishing levels back to what people expect at Central Park. He said by next spring, the lake should be full for recreation use.

     They are also installing ADA access along the lake to the dam and boat ramp, with 1,200 feet of access against the shoreline.

     Mormann said a grand opening will likely take place next May. “The lake should be full and everything green again,” he said.

     In regards to the Mon Maq Dam project in Monticello, Mormann informed the board that Conservation is no longer working with the DOT and Federal Highway Administration. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (Service) is taking over,” he said.

     At the next Conservation Board meeting, Mormann said they will discuss alternatives to the dam modification project. After that, Mormann they will look to schedule another public meeting within the next few months “to talk about those alternatives and work with focus groups throughout the county.”

     To date, Mormann said that $206,943 has spent on the dam project, largely engineering costs. The project has roughly $800,000 left in funding and grants.

     “The DNR is giving a two-year extension on all grants,” Mormann said of extending the timeline of the project. He said they working through Fish and Wildlife for an extension.

     “We need to keep moving, though,” he said.

     Conservation is still working on acquiring more grants, including a $100,000 grant with Fish and Wildelife.

     Mike Davies of Anamosa, who was present at the meeting, questioned why the county was moving forward with the dam project when “93 percent doesn’t favor taking it out?” (A petition circulated the county well over a year ago concerning Mon Maq Dam.)

     “Our petition has 3,000 signatures on it,” added Davies. “What will it take to convince you that public opinion is not in favor?”

     Supervisor Joe Oswald said several people felt threatened and intimidated when it came to signing the petitions. Davies objected to that sentiment.

     “Some people didn’t realize what they were even signing,” added Oswald.

     Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach said the dam is a future liability to the county and the taxpayers. With the petitions displayed inside businesses throughout the county, Zirkelbach questioned how many signatures are from outside Jones County.

     “It’s not up to this board,” commented Supervisor Ned Rohwedder. “It’s up to the Conservation Board. We’re not going to tell them what to do.”

In other county business:

     • The board approved a proposal from AgVantage FS for liquid propane at Memorial Hall in Wyoming, at a cost of $1.24 per gallon. The cost last year was $1.06 per gallon.

     • The board approved a proposal from Whirxx for a survey drone system at a cost of $39,950. The contract includes paying 50 percent as a down payment and the rest upon delivery of the equipment.

     The approval includes the advanced payment and waiving the county’s purchase policy with no competitive bidding.

     • County Engineer Derek Snead informed the board that he is pursuing an additional office administrator to help with the work duties of his department. He said he is not asking the board for additional money for the salary to fill the position.

     The board asked Snead to put together job descriptions for both office administrator positions and a possible pay scale.

     • Chris Nelson with Shive-Hattery met with the board to finalize plans for courthouse improvement projects.

     The plans include: replacement of the west courthouse ramp and stairs, drainage improvements on the north side of the courthouse, as well as work to the entrances on the south and east sides.



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