Conservation board presents report to supervisors

WASHINGTON - Members of the Washington County Board of Supervisors heard an upbeat annual report summary from Washington County Conservation Board Executive Director Zach Rozmus of Riverside and President Craig Capps of Kalona during the supervisors’ regular weekly meeting held Tuesday, Aug. 13.

The highlight of the report was the Kewash Trail project. After years of planning and grant applications, construction of the trail between Washington and Keota began in September of 2018. According to the report, the lead contractor, Delong Construction, fought less than ideal weather conditions but was able to complete the majority of the dirt work before the winter months. Temporary seeding was in place before winter.

In April of 2019, the area surrounding the newly laid concrete trail was seeded to native grasses to assist with maintenance and to help establish a pleasing landscape for trail users to enjoy.

A Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant in an amount not to exceed $342,537 was secured to partially fund the project. A grant of up to $120,000 was also received from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation. The city of Washington received a Resource Enhancement And Protection (REAP) grant of up to $100,000 and the city and the Conservation Board have each dedicated up to $60,000 to the project bringing the potential funding to $682,537.

The Kewash Trail project was by far the largest project undertaken by the board last year and the cost of projects ($619,597.64) accounted for half of the board’s $1,225,623.98 in expenditures. Administration costs were $432,307.07 while maintenance and operations costs were $171,859.98. Recreational services costs were $1,859.29. When the cost of projects is deducted, total operating costs were $606,026.34.

The board has $315,428.79 in the bank from funds from capital projects, REAP grants, DNR fines and forfeitures. Capps said he is very proud of the professionalism of the current staff.

Roads and Bridges

Washington County Engineer Jacob Thorius presented a resolution for three, five-year road program revisions. The resolution calls for paving 290th Street from Highway 1 east to Kiwi Avenue at a cost of $1 million. The project will be funded by a Revise Iowa’s Sound Economy (RISE) grant (25 percent) and from county funds budgeted for road projects (75 percent) next year. It also calls for paving from 2025 300th Street east to Kiwi Avenue, then north to 290th Street at a cost of one million dollars, funded by state to county farm to market dollars in 2020. The revisions also include grading on 285th Street from Ivy Avenue west for one quarter mile in 2020 at a cost of $55,000. The supervisors approved the resolution.

Thorius submitted for approval an agreement between Washington County and the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) for funding of a county bridge project through the federal-aid Swap County Highway Bridge Program whereby counties receive federal funds passed down from the state with much less red tape. The project involves a bridge on Birch Avenue over Smith Creek with an estimated cost of $500,000. The supervisors unanimously approved the agreement.

Thorius said he would like to apply to IDOT for $500,000 in traffic safety improvement funds for the Riverside Road Safety Improvement Project. The supervisors approved the application.

Other Business

In other business, the supervisors:

• Heard a monthly report about the county’s rural solid waste recycling center and

• Approved a pay raise for Brett Johnson, Ranger Technician in the Conservation Department.