Hancock County Engineer Jeremy Purvis reported on at least a half dozen flooded rural roads in the county that were being closed temporarily at the Feb. 27 supervisors meeting. The issue arose on the heels of heavy rain overnight when many ground structures were frozen with snow and ice.
“A lot of the roads are flooding, mostly because drains are so frozen and the ditches are full of water,” Purvis said. “There’s a number of roads that are closed. We’re closing them and letting the water recede before reopening them.”
He listed a number of the roads with water issues that morning, including 140th and James, Crane and 290th, and Echo and 150th where he called flooding a “mess.” He also cited water at 210th and Grant.
“There are more areas,” Purvis said. “We need to get those tile drains opened up. That is the biggest thing. The water in the ditch is going anywhere. We’ll continue to monitor them if it (water) comes up. There’s not much more we can do. Unless we get a FEMA emergency declaration, we can’t get money.”
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Purvis said the monitoring would include taking photographs of the flood areas, which will be helpful for an emergency declaration.
Purvis also presented a resolution for a road patching project from East 1st Street to James Avenue along State Avenue in Crystal Lake. Supervisors approved the resolution to accept an $187,981 bid from Midwest Contractors, Inc. of Cedar Falls.
“It came in considerably under budget, so we will look at adding additional work including 200th Street west of U.S. Highway 69 by BMC quarry and Vail Avenue between 110th and 225th,” Purvis said.
Purvis said that $500,000 was budgeted for the patching project. He said the contractor has all summer to complete the project and additional patching work will depend on contractor availability and how much time is left in the construction season. He said the secondary roads department will know more about Midwest Contractors’ schedule following an upcoming pre-construction meeting.
“If we everything we want done doesn’t get up to our budget, we can always let another project in the coming years to help maintain our concrete roads,” Purvis said.
In other business, supervisors held a teleconference with the Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors. The two boards voted to reschedule a formal hearing with landowners for joint drainage district 123-113 and Cerro Gordo County drainage district 16. The prior hearing date was postponed. The new hearing time and date is 1 p.m. on April 12 at the Ventura Center.
In an informational item, TJ Herrick of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Mike Shannon and John Washington with Ducks Unlimited updated supervisors on the Eagle Lake enhancement project.
Herrick said the project will not entail replacing the existing water-control structure at Eagle Lake, near Britt.
“It’s not functioning as well as we’d like it to,” said Herrick, noting that the area is not in a drainage district, but its waters flow to county drainage districts.
Washington said the project will update a stop-log bay, adding a new catwalk and new aluminum stop logs. He said that would not involve any hydraulic changes. Stop logs are generally used at a dam to block water at gates that control flow over the dam.
It was noted that the lake project would also involve raising a few low spots on berms up to a foot. They said when the level of Eagle Lake get really high it could breach those berms. Herrick said the lake level would have to be “exceedingly” high to go to neighboring fields.
Another part of the project will entail lowering the emergency spillway by six inches to enable the lake level to return more quickly to its standard maintenance level. It could lessen hydraulic pressure of extra water in the lake for an extended time and assist lands that drain into the lake, according to Herrick.
In addition to allowing water to go over the spillway sooner, “fish fingers” will be added at stop logs for the spillway, which could improve water quality and keep fish from jumping and swimming upstream.
Project construction is anticipated to begin this summer and continue through the fall. It could possibly push into spring of 2024, particularly with finishing work such as seeding. The project will be bid to contractors this spring, possibly in April. The permitting process has also not occurred yet. Project plans were discussed at an IDNR open house in Britt last September.
In other business, supervisors agreed to sign a New York Life work site employer agreement form. It will allow payroll deductions for employees that choose to enroll in New York Life.
“It is 100% voluntary,” Supervisor Chair Sis Greiman said. “We have nothing to do with it. If employees want it, they can have it.”
In the public forum, Hancock County Emergency Response Coordinator Andy Buffington reported progress on the county’s new communications tower being completed by Motorola near Duncan.
“Probably, in the next two weeks they’ll have the microwave dishes on site,” he said. “Their staff will be there to supervise everything.
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.