OSAGE | The lease agreement between Mitchell County and the city of Osage, regarding the wastewater pre-treatment plant, will soon be assigned to Valent BioSciences, or VBC.

City employees, currently working at the plant, will have to go through the hiring process with Valent BioSciences, including an interview and background check, with the exception of Kurt Angell, who will remain a city employee, according to Mitchell County Supervisor Joel Voaklander.

Former county auditor Dean Pohren, addressed the board in regards to the unresolved issue of the smell emanating from the plant.

“Who will we go to about the odor?” Pohren said.

According to Voaklander, VBC has already taken over management of the facility, bringing in consultants from their other plants across the globe to find a solution to the lingering odor issues.

“They seem to be adamant at the meetings, that the odor has to be dealt with and made to go away,” Voaklander said. “They are on the other side of the situation now and seeing what happens when they send too much wastewater to the plant and exceed the capacity.

“Now they are getting the tanks to where they need to be, and with the planned aeration, the smell should go away.”

In other action, the supervisors approved a resolution authorizing an internal loan to fund the North Iowa Port Authority Natural Gas Distribution System Phase 1 feasibility and design engineering project for the more than 32-mile natural gas pipeline proposed to come to Mitchell County. The estimated cost of the first phase is $800,000, with Mitchell County providing half or $400,000.

The county’s portion would be paid back, up to ten years, from future tax increment funds, or TIF, received.

The total cost of the project is to be split 50/50 between Worth and Mitchell counties, with both counties splitting any profits the line may generate.

The first phase of the project, a high pressure line, would run from St. Ansgar to Osage, with a second, low-pressure line to Riceville. The study will take roughly nine to 12 months to complete and would answer many of the questions which may be raised regarding usage options for the pipeline.

According to Mitchell County Supervisor Stan Walk, the line would run along 440th Street. Northern Natural Gas, the company supplying the natural gas, currently has a line to Manly. The line would run down the company’s right of way to the St. Ansgar Industrial Park.

“(The study) should be able to tell what farms would be able to hook up and who can be reached,” Walk said. “In addition, it should be able to tell us the diameter of the pipe that would be needed in certain areas.

“The idea is to have a shovel-ready project, while in the meantime, trying to get the federal government to fund the project through money set aside for infrastructure. We may never go ahead with the project that is the feasibility part of the study. We haven’t gotten to the point of deciding if we are going to construct the gas line. That would come down the road.”

The board voted unanimously approved to fund the engineering study with Voaklander requesting regular updates from the company, Dakota-Montana, the company conducting the study. This would allow the supervisors to stay appraised of the invoiced costs of the study and what had been discovered in regards to feasibility and need.

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