By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
During the Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 19, the Board opened bids to replace the courthouse emergency generator. Three bids came in for the project:
• 3E Kohler Power bid $25,534 for a single-phase generator and $42,928 for a three-phase.
• Altorfer Power bid $40,980 for a single-phase generator and $46,220 for a three-phase.
• Hawkeye Electric bid $33,975 for a single-phase generator and $49,870 for a three-phase.
The courthouse currently runs off of a single-phase generator. Sheriff Greg Graver commented that with a three-phase generator, the courthouse elevator could be added to the back-up power source.
Supervisor Keith Dirks asked Graver to review the bids and look into whether the cost of delivery of the generator was included in the bids. The Board budgeted $48,000 towards the project.
A 10-ton weight limit was placed on the 145th Avenue Bridge in Cass Township over Mino Creek.
County Engineer Derek Snead said the bridge is “in pretty poor shape.”
He told the Board that there are a lot more bridges throughout the county in similar condition that could require weight limits as well.
IIW Engineers, Architects and Surveyors out of Dubuque were consulted to perform several bridge inspections throughout Jones County. Based on their results, many bridges have been re-rated as far as how big of a load they can handle. Snead said NBIS (National Bridge Inspection Standards) also passed down new bridge inspection standards in 2010.
“There are new load-rating factors,” explained Snead.
He said between 15 and 25 bridges throughout Jones County could see a reduced weight limit from their current postings.
“Age (of a bridge) makes a difference,” said Snead. “We have a lot of bridges 50 years old or older that are deteriorating all at the same rate.”
Snead said Jones is not the only county dealing with this issue of re-rating bridges. He said it’s a federal regulation that came about after the I-35 Mississippi River bridge collapsed in Minnesota.
Supervisor Dirks said the news of the rating system is “pretty concerning.” He advised Snead to get the word out to county farmers about these new bridge load limits and to inform the Farm Bureau.
Supervisor Wayne Manternach asked if the county does not lower the weight limits on these bridges, who would be liable if there were an accident?
“We’re being instructed by a professional certified instructor to lower these weight limits,” explained Snead. He said some of the bridges could be reduced anywhere from 40 to 10 tons.
Every 24 months, the bridges in the county are inspected and rated. The Engineer’s Office employs Mark Stoneking as the Chief Bridge Inspector.
The Board asked if there was a grace period as to how soon the bridges have to be reposted. Snead advised getting it done as soon as possible.
“I’m concerned that the limits are a little over cautious,” commented Supervisor Ned Rohwedder.
Snead said the drastic reductions are needed because the bridges will not be replaced any time soon. He said some of the bridges could be dropped 5 tons at a time, not all at once either.
Supervisor Dirks wanted to make sure school buses wouldn’t be affected by the weight limit changes. Snead said they would be applicable.
“I can’t imagine lowering the limits on all of the bridges in Jones County,” Dirks questioned.
“We’re actively working on bridges as fast as we can,” said Snead. “We’re working with Buchanan County to trade resources for the use of their crane to help with bridge repair.”
In other county business:
• The Board approved Judy Krouse as the new site manager in Monticello for Senior Dining. The previous site manager, Jody Graff, resigned due to a decrease in hours.
• Snead informed the Board that the City of Monticello approved to take part in the county’s road project along Amber Road/X-44.
• Kathy Koerperich, JETS manager, presented a passenger behavior policy to the Board for approval. Koerperich said there have been repeated issues on the JETS’ vehicles that need attention. She said a policy would help address these issues with passengers. The Board approved the policy.
• The Board approved the second consideration of the Jones County consumption ordinance.
• After budget discussions, the Board voted 4-1, with Rohwedder opposing, to approve employee wage increases as proposed, as long as the increases did not increase departmental budgets.
The Board also approved the FY 2014 county budget for publication. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 12, at 9:15 a.m.