June 16, 2024

County prepares for traffic detour

Traffic through portions of Union County will be detoured off U.S. Highway 169 starting Monday making county officials monitor traffic flow and road conditions.

The Iowa Department of Transportation will be removing a bridge south of Lorimor and the work is expected to be complete in August. During that time, traffic will be rerouted using Creamery Road, which intersects with U.S. Highway 34 west of Afton, and REA Road, which intersects with Highway 169 in Lorimor. The bridge was used as an overpass of an abandoned railroad.

County officials said Wednesday those people who live and farm along Highway 169 between the work site and the detour roads will still be able to access their properties. County Secondary Road Superintendent Al Hysell told the county board of supervisors he expects adjacent county roads to also be used more by people who live and work in that area.

In other county news...

Supervisors did not take any action on changing its grading agreement policy. Supervisor Dennis Hopkins said he had wanted to discuss the concept to ensure the county was not doing any work and having a property owner mainly benefit.

A grading agreement is when the county and property owner agree for the county to clear a fence line along a county right of way. Christian Boehmer, who started as county engineer this week, said Union County is the only county in southwest Iowa that he knows of that has such a formal agreement.

Boehmer is not opposed to continuing agreements knowing the county can also benefit from the work. But each request is reviewed and prioritized.

“If something needs addressed and it is high priority, we will always take it in consideration,” Boehmer said. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the county.”

Historically, the county has cleared brush and reshaped portions of ditches to prevent snow from building up along or on roads or to improve drainage. Hysell said the county can benefit as some dirt removed from grading agreement areas is used some place else in the county.

Some fence lines have been in close proximity to the county right of way and ditches. Hysell said the department averages five agreements a year as funds are budgeted specifically for the work.

“We have to be careful when we pick and choose,” he said about requests for such work.

Hopkins said he understood and respected the strategy with grading agreements.

The county then approved an agreement for Hoover Angus Farms along a portion of Trout Street in southern part of the county.

Boehmer had the same position in Clarke County before being hired by Union County in late March. Union County had not had an engineer since November 2021. Boehmer was in a shared agreement with Union County.

Boehmer had been in Clarke County since 2016. He was with the city of Burlington, prior, for more than a year. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa.

Union County Supervisors said the shared agreement with Clarke will not continue after Boehmer started in Union. Clarke County recently found its new engineer.

The supervisors unanimously reappointed Tom Lesan to the county conservation board for a four-year term.

Supervisors are meeting in their new conference room on the lower level of the courthouse, which was where the assessor’s office was located. The assessor’s office moved into where supervisors met on the main floor.

The county used some of its American Rescue funds to pay for remodeling and relocating of offices within the courthouse. The assessor’s office was moved to be on the same level with auditor, recorder and treasurer knowing how common it is for someone to need more than one of those services during the same visit.

American Rescue funds were provided by the federal government to make up for lost revenue during the COVID pandemic. A chair lift is available to access the lower level of the courthouse from the south entrance.

John Van Nostrand

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.