Winneshiek County is seeking a new assistant county attorney. County Attorney Andrew Vander Maaten noted at Monday’s meeting of the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors that the need arises from staff changes.

“Lee (Wilmarth) will be going off council,” he said. “We’re looking at an associate to pick up Jana (Evelsizer Olson)’s work.”

The position, Vander Maaten added, will not require additional funding. The Board approved moving forward with the process.

From the engineer

County Engineer Lee Bjerke reported that the county did not receive a Better Utilizing Investments and Leverage Development (BUILD) grant recently applied for. The grant was earmarked for a bridge on Pole Line Road. Bjerke noted that Winneshiek County was one of 13 out of 68 applicants not receiving funding. Bridges were the controlling factor in funding allotment. Bjerke said the County will continue to pursue all available options as they arise. Bjerke said the last cross pipe is being inserted on the 175th Street project. Bjerke noted that a Mediacom fiber line will need to be worked around for completion. “If it gets cut, it will impact the City of Spillville,” Bjerke said. Crews will splice around the line to complete the project. Upon the recommendation of Supervisor Mark Kuhn, the Board has added 318th Avenue near Kendalville to the list of non-maintenance rural roads this winter. The road is a dead end and contains no dwellings along it.

The other roads, finalized at the Board’s Monday, Nov. 9 meeting are: 128th St., 365th St., and 345th Street.In order for a county road to be considered for winter non-maintenance, it may not service or lead to any inhabited building. This includes livestock enclosures. It also must not service as an access point to any power or utility line. Kuhn spent weeks driving rural roads to determine possible candidates. Not maintaining these roads throughout the winter months saves time and material for county road crews. Area drivers may continue to use these roads at their discretion. Concerning road crew equipment, Bjerke noted two units were purchased out of last year’s fiscal budget, with the next purchase planned for July, 2021. “We aim to buy one maintainer per year,” he said. “This puts them on a 12-year cycle.” Bjerke recommended the County invest in Cat® equipment only, due to what he’s experienced as a reliability in transmission. Bjerke noted he currently has “five guys out due to COVID.” If employees are asymptomatic, they are allowed machine access in an isolated manner. Bjerke expects all but one individual back this week, with one returning the following. Supervisor Floyd Ashbacher inquired on an available pool to fill in if needed considering the approach of winter. “We never get more than the two we’ve got,” said Bjerke. “We’ll just keep working around things, and continue to plan in advance.”

Courthouse matters

Supervisor Dean Thompson told Board members he hoped to tap into a portion of a $600,000 Iowa Rural Heritage Revitalization Grant. The funds would assist Winneshiek County Courthouse repair and restoration.The funds, he noted, are not less than $75,000 nor more than $125,000 with matching funds available. “We’ve been waiting for an opportunity for the third-floor courtroom,” he said. The Board noted the structure’s leaks, currently under examination, would have to be fixed first; Thompson advised the timeline is feasible, due to grant fund expenditure deadline of May 2023.A Courthouse status report was issued by Renaissance Restoration (RR) of Galena, Ill., pending a recent September visit. At that time, the RR report indicated water damage from several sources, as well as possible steps to correct the issue. Thompson stated his sentiment that Winneshiek County is in good standing for grant possibility. “We have the history of the building. It’s been maintained; the chances of getting the grant are high.” Qualifications for grant application are met, which include: location in an area with fewer than 50,000 residents; designation on the National Register of Historic Places (the Courthouse falls under the Broadway-Phelps Historic District, established in 1976) or a National Historic Landmark; and ownership by the applicant, either a local government or a nonprofit.

In other business, the Board approved a Class C liquor license for Twin Springs Supper Club, formerly McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita of rural Decorah. 

The next meeting of the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors is Monday, Nov. 30 at 9:30 a.m., at the Courthouse Annex in Decorah.