January 26, 2021

Riley elected supervisor chair

In its first decision of 2021, the Union County Board of Supervisors elected Ron Riley as chair and Dennis Brown as vice chair.

Riley is serving the third year of his fourth term as a supervisor. Brown was reelected for a fourth term in the 2020 election.

The board approved a holiday schedule, established the Creston News Advertiser and The Afton Star Enterprise as the county’s official newspapers and renewed yearly resolutions including one to use the Master Matrix to evaluate confinement feeding operations.

“We feel it gives people one more opportunity to voice their concerns,” Riley said, adding that using the Master Matrix requires the supervisors to score the operation’s plan and hold a public hearing before any substantial construction is approved.

Shaun Lauer of building and grounds had requested the board allow a contract for Service Techs for on-call snow removal at the Department of Human Services building when a heavy snowfall occurs during working hours. The contract would be for $85 per hour with $.45 per 100 pounds of ice melt and $40 per occurrence for applying the ice melt.

Brown said the contract would not require bids due to it being under the threshold that would require it.

Supervisor Rick Friday said he would prefer to bid out the contract to see if the costs are competitive.

After speaking with Lauer, who said the choice of contractor was due to convenience because Service Techs clears the snow from the adjoining parking lot, the supervisors voted unanimously to approve the contract for one year.

The cost of the contracted snow removal would come from the county’s snow removal budget and be partially reimbursed by DHS.

Appointments were renewed for county boards with no changes except for Susan Dunphy replacing Tom Hartsock on the Compensation Board. The reappointments for the ADA board were tabled until a future session. A list of board appointments will be available on the county website once it is finalized for 2021.

Secondary roads

A request by Gene Garrett to vacate an easement on 197th Street was denied by the supervisors after Union County Assessor Mindy Schaefer clarified the boundaries of the properties involved and Roads Superintendent Al Hysell said the county needs to retain the easement for safety reasons.

A request by Jodi Johnson to place a stop sign East Townline Road at the intersection with North Osage Street would require a study by an engineer and coordination with the City of Creston.

Hysell will check to see if a study has already been performed and will check with Nick Kauffman while he is in Union County this week. Hysell said a stop sign would likely not be possible due to the fact that it involves a farm-to-market road. Hysell suggested a yield to right of way sign might help keep drivers more aware.

Hysell spoke about the recent snow removal, saying the operators try to alternate what areas they clear first during each snowfall.

“What people don’t realize is: total we have 600 plus miles to get over and they’re running along at seven, eight miles per hour. It takes awhile,” he said.

Supervisor Rick Friday commended Hysell on the job the secondary roads did last week.

Hysell said with two of his workers out on medical leave, he would like to advertise for on-call snow plow drivers to supplement his crew during heavy snows. He said he ended up driving a plow truck during the recent snow.

“If we get COVID, before the shots get to us, with the two medical leaves I’ve got right now, if you add another one on there, we’re going to be in trouble,” Hysell said.

Due to the need for a CDL, the high level of responsibility involved and the likelihood of middle-of-the-night phone calls, Hysell recommended a $20 per hour pay rate.

The Union County Board of Supervisors meets weekly 9 a.m. Monday at the Union County Courthouse, 300 N. Pine St. The supervisors are still meeting in person at this time, but the public is encouraged to submit comments for public forum by mail, email or telephone to help limit the gathering to 10 participants.