August 16, 2022

County leaves dirt in wrong place

Union County Secondary Roads will remove some of the dirt it accidentally left on private property last week near Kent. The approximate 13 dump truck loads damaged about an acre of a hayfield.

Daniel Page, who works the hayfield, met with Union County Board of Supervisors and Secondary Roads Superintendent Al Hysell Monday. Page asked how long the dirt will be there. Hysell said he does not know. The county, which has property in close proximity to the hayfield, strategically places large amounts of dirt for various uses including bridge, road and ditch improvements.

“You don’t know when you need dirt,” Hysell said. The dirt can also be used during the winter months.

Page said he has made large round and square bales of hay from the field.

“We got a little over three bales off the first cutting,” Page said about the hay. “Second cutting we did square bales, 40 to 60 bales. Depends on rain and the weather and whatnot.”

Supervisor Ron Riley asked if the damage will make Page get about half of his normal hay productivity. Page was willing to be compensated with the dirt. He said some dirt is needed in some places of his property to make the land more efficient to grow hay.

“I can always use dirt,” Page said.

Hysell was wiling to keep all options open to make up for Page’s loss.

“We can make it happen if you think you are going to be short on hay. It’s powder dry, but it’s good, black dirt,” Hysell said. “Sorry about the mishap.”

Page said he asked various people last week if they knew where the dirt came from after he saw it one day. The questioning eventually led to county operations.

In other secondary road news...

Hysell said the supply chain issues impacting many industries are creating a challenge for him to find a used dump truck. Hysell has been interested in purchasing two trucks but finding one to buy is hard. Supervisors formally approved for Hysell to purchase one when one is located.

“What I’m finding there will be listed for a day or two then sold,” he said. “If we do find the right candidate I’d like to be able to move on it and not have to wait a week to bring it in front of you guys.” Traditionally, Hysell brings bids to the supervisors before a purchase is finalized.

He said he found a truck last Monday and hoped to see it Tuesday. But when he called back Tuesday, it was already sold. For what he needs, Hysell estimated a used truck cost between $65,000 and $75,000.

“The used market is really hot,” he said. Hysell’s search includes neighboring states.

“We will be lucky to find one,” he said. “It’s hard telling what I will run into,” he said about price.

A new truck fully equipped is at least $185,000 Hysell estimated.

Hysell said used trucks that were used by a government entity maybe ideal as they are usually equipped with what the county needs.

Union County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved changes to the county’s flood plain management ordinance. Without the change, county residents may be denied flood insurance.

Two weeks ago, Union County Emergency Management Coordinator Jo Duckworth explained the proposed changes with the supervisors.

A flood plain ordinance was approved a few years ago with revisions in 2019 and 2020. Prior versions didn’t meet the FEMA or Department of Natural Resources approval. The point in question is related to the water gap which defined in the ordinance states “fences erected by landowners to enclose or otherwise restrict the movement of livestock, which span any type of watercourse, stream or creek.” These fences are considered specialized nonconforming use and may continue as provided by this ordinance.

Duckworth said the DNR approves the section related to the water gap and the “reconstruction, replacement or restoration,” but FEMA didn’t like the language, requesting the three words “is similar to” be replaced with “is similar in design and construction” to the existing fence “and is designed to minimize flood damages.”

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.