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  • Last modified 122 days ago (Jan. 24, 2019)

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Roads 'a mess' but civility sought

Staff writer

Discussion of road conditions and planning for roadwork drew 11 members of the public to Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

Before comments began, commission chairman Kent Becker issued a warning to people assembled for the discussion.

“Commission and public, this is not a yell-fest,” Becker said. “This is a civil discussion. If it deviates from that, it’s over.”

County roads have frequently been a divisive issue.

Road superintendent Jesse Hamm said “a couple of weeks ago, with rain and snow, equipment operators were making a mess of roads” while hauling rocks. He decided it was a better idea to refrain from rocking roads until conditions were more favorable.

“I was able to get all the blade men out Saturday and Sunday to take advantage of the frost,” Hamm said.

Hamm said he’ll need to put more rock out and he’d like to hire some trucking companies to assist with the hauling.

Becker asked if the department is trying to use larger rock, and Hamm said yes. He added that in some areas, crews are getting stuck.

Becker asked if he had any idea how many miles the rock he has might cover, and Hamm said he doesn’t know because he doesn’t know how many trucks would be available.

Becker asked if the road department is keeping in touch with people who call to request rock. Hamm answered that the secretary made it clear she doesn’t think it’s her job to do that, but he’s trying to call them. Becker said that responsibility should not fall completely on Hamm.

Commissioner Dianne Novak said rock from Harshman Quarry in Florence is the softest rock in the state and questioned why the county is buying so much rock from there.

Novak also suggested other budget items, such as equipment purchases, should be delayed so rocking could be done first.

Hamm said he’s been checking out other rock sources.

Hamm showed commissioners an email from Emery Sapp and Sons, a construction company doing a highway reconstruction project of US-56 near Lost Springs. The company will demolish three miles of concrete pavement between March and May, producing about 25,000 tons of material, and offers to sell ground concrete to the county for road material.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he’d like Hamm to get more information and bring it back to commissioners.

Liberty Township resident Linda Peters asked when the county would have a long-term plan for roads.

“We’ve been talking about this for two years,” Peters said.

Hamm said he’d given commissioners a list of priorities a few weeks ago, and that is his long-term plan.

Becker recommended Hamm “get his thoughts together” and come to commissioners with a plan so they can work together on it.

In other business:

  • A small piece of property adjoining the former Santa Fe Depot in Florence may transfer to Florence Historical Society as part of their restoration of the depot.
  • Robert Harris, historical society board member, asked commissioners if they would give, or else sell for a low price, property that the railroad company wants them to obtain before the depot is given to the historical society.
  • A fence needs to be installed as part of the agreement between the society and the railroad, Harris said.
  • Commissioners are interested in cooperating.
  • County clerk Tina Spencer said she thinks the property transfer should be discussed with county counsel Brad Jantz.
  • “We have been told by the Marion Land Bank that they would work with us on something like that,” Dallke said.
  • Commissioners also heard an annual report from the weed department, quarterly reports from department on aging, and health department, a monthly report from emergency medical services, and held an executive session to discuss personnel.

Last modified Jan. 24, 2019

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