August 04, 2021

Union County Supervisors move forward on treasury office remodeling, secondary roads

The Union County Board of Supervisors met to discuss a courtroom security door quote and creating an emergency entrance near railroad tracks 9 a.m. Monday. The board also approved a five-year secondary roads program and utility permit for a power line on Osage St. as well as new radio equipment for the Union County Law Enforcement Center.

Security door

Shawn Lauer from County Buildings and Grounds discussed remodeling the treasurer’s office by adding a more secure door and removing the current vault to make room for driver’s license testing space. Lauer said that he did not yet have a quote for enhanced security door to present to the board.

“Currently,they just have the standard traditional door, no reinforced glass, just straight glass, so there’s nothing that will really stop anyone,” Lauer said

The initial quote Lauer received involved cutting the door, but he’s expecting a quote for to have the door relocated to the south wall instead, which he believes will be more cost-effective.

Emergency access

Wayne and Michelle Hanson of R.E. Lewis came to the supervisors with concerns over train traffic blocking their means of leaving their residence. The Hansons live near a railroad which frequently stops, leaving the only alternative for them to be a dirt road that is only usable for a certain portion of the year.

“During the midst of COVID, it wasn’t too bad because the train traffic was pretty low,” Wayne Hanson said.

He then said that train traffic resumed to pre-pandemic levels.

“We were talking to one of the guys who operates with BNSF and the trains are about a mile and a half long now,” he said.

Hanson added that BNSF has been unresponsive to his complaints.

“As long as the train’s moving, that’s life,” he said. “And it comes and goes, where they decide to stop, and we have numbers that we call and it doesn’t do any good.”

Hanson said he can only access the dirt road for a third of the year.

“If it’s cold and there’s no snow, we’re good, and if it’s dry, we’re good,” Hanson said. “Other than that, we’re just landlocked.”

Hanson asserted that he only needs a road for temporary access. He later said that the road would be better off remaining somewhat crude to prevent it from having too much traffic.

“I don’t need the Taj Mahal, I need a vehicle to get through there,” he said.

During the winter Hanson said, he returned to his home and was unable to leave due to the train coming to rest and the dirt road, his only alternative, being unusable.

Michelle Hanson said she was able contact a member of the BNSF and both she and him came to an understanding.

“This is a liability issue on both sides,” she said, relaying the conversation to the supervisors.

She also expressed the proactive need for an emergency entrance for vehicles.

“I don’t want to wait until there is a tragedy before we make movement,” she said.

One option the board floated is using crushed concrete instead of gravel. Crushed concrete costs $550 per ton whereas gravel is approximately $1,265 per ton.

However, Law Enforcement nor the Fire Department will prioritize the road unless it’s classified as A-level.

In other county supervisor news:

  • The board approved a five-year secondary roads program which includes paving, reconstruction and other projects totaling $488,600 from local funds by 2025. The program includes three bridges, one paving project, one reconstruction project and five miscellaneous projects. The board also approved a utility permit for a power line under Osage St.
  • Union County Emergency Management Director Jo Anne Duckworth reported that there have been 32 deaths from COVID-19 in Union County and that both the EMA and board of supervisors are encouraging the public to wear face masks and get vaccinated.
  • Duckworth also approached the board with a $19,803 quote for radio equipment for the Law Enforcement Center. She also met with the board for concerns of reprogramming the radios, which last cost $7,455, and anticipates reprogramming with the new equipment. However, she will be getting quotes from other counties before there is a motion to approve by the Union County supervisors.

The next Union County Board of Supervisors meeting is 9 a.m. Apr. 19. To contact the board call 641-782-1701 or visit unioncountyiowa.org.