Hancock County Engineer Jeremy Purvis on April 17 informed the board of supervisors of a hiccup in initial construction work on the new east-side vestibule entrance for the Garner courthouse.
Purvis said workers cut into the brick base for temporary and permanent shoring that is usually solid brick, but that isn’t what they found.
“There’s some hollow, clay brick,” Purvis said. “Some of it is rammed vertical, some sideways. It’s a mess.”
The project engineer is concerned it won’t hold and is looking at options to add building support and awaiting approvals from a structural engineer, according to Purvis.
“It seems like a slow process, because they ran into some things in the wall they weren’t expecting,” Purvis said. “It was 1899 when it was built, so who knows. Once this is done, it should go pretty quick.”
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Purvis explained that such walls usually consist of more bricks on the inside of the wall, but “a portion is hollow. It should be solid brick.”
Supervisors concluded that construction decades ago, which involved adding the east staircase, has nothing to do with it. They noted that the same contractor did that work and would have known if something was done then.
“Could there be anything in the archives?” asked Supervisor Gary Rayhons. “Back then, they could have been low on brick, so they put them here and there. It could be anything.”
Still a mystery, supervisors unanimously approved a $17,841 first pay estimate to the project contractor, Dean Snyder Construction Company, for work completed.
Purvis also reported that the secondary roads department is starting to clean ditches alongside roads where late-winter flooding sent water over roads that had to be closed. He said that the county’s gravel roads remain in pretty good shape, but crews are still hauling some rock. With rain in the forecast, he said that some patch work near Kanawha will wait a week until dryer weather. Crews will also be doing shoulder work on county roads with dirt crews working on driveway entrances.
In addition, $2,000 is anticipated to be spent for drainage cleaning near the intersection of Highway 69 and 290th Street. Also on 290th Street, an old drainage district box will be “mud jacked” up and leveled.
“We try to do to do six to 10 a year to get more bang for the buck,” Purvis said. “We do as many as we can.”
Purvis said grout bags would be placed under some bridges during the mud jacking project.
Purvis also reporting having nine applicants for the department’s sign technician and maintenance equipment operator vacancy with a late surge of applications prior to the April 14 deadline.
“We only had four or five, so we got quite a few more, which is good,” Purvis said. “I’m confident of those four that we’re interviewing, one of them is going to be good.” The position will operate out of the Britt maintenance shed.
Supervisors welcomed Iowa House District 56 Rep. Mark Thompson as a guest to Monday’s meeting. Thompson said the Senate was discussing its budget before the House does the same, so he was in the field in his district, which includes Hancock, Humboldt, and Wright Counties.
In other business, supervisors delayed action on an agreement for drainage district inspection services between Hancock County and Bolton & Menk until after Brian Yung of Johnson, Mulholland, Cochrane, Cochrane, Yung, and Engler confers with Tyler Conley of Bolton & Menk on concerns about the county receiving prompt payment for drainage inspection and locate services related to the proposed carbon pipeline construction in the county.
“We are not expecting to get payment the county until the county gets payment from the company during the construction work, but it could get hairy,” Conley said.
“We are going to have a lot of costs incurred and we don’t know when we’re going to get paid,” Supervisor Chair Sis Greiman said.
“They could leave us hanging in the wind by not paying or approving it right away,” Supervisor Rayhons said.
In other business, supervisors approved Wellmark documents and health insurance rates for fiscal year 2023-24 (6.5% increase) as well as dental rates (5% increase) and vision rates (no change) for 2023-24.
The board also set a 9:15 a.m. May 8 public hearing for a proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budget amendment. It would reduce the county’s taxes levied on property by $19,461 to $6.066 million. Intergovernmental revenues would also be reduced by $153,000 under the proposed amendment. There would be a reduction of more than $1.8 million for capital projects. The total ending fund balance would be more than $8.4 million, up from nearly $6.6 million.
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.