County conservation comes out even on recent expense, unexpected income

County conservation director Dan Towers reported bad news and good news to the county supervisors Monday.

Towers reported that the north side of a fishing riffle at McMahon Access was damaged  by high water in December 2015. The public access is on the south side, but the damage has made the riffle ineffective and there has been little fishing there since.

Last spring Towers spoke to the north property owner Craig Flack, who does excavating and hauls rock as a business, about repairing the riffle at some point. With the water level low this summer and Flack’s supply of rock diminishing, Towers told Flack to start the project last week.

The project cost more than Towers anticipated -$15,000. “We didn’t budget for it. I knew it was a problem but I didn’t know when it would be addressed,” he said.
As he was scratching his head wondering where to find $15,000 in the budget, he said, he received a request from Northern Natural Gas for an easement on the county’s former railroad property north of Rippey.

By coincidence, the company offered to pay $15,000 for the easement.The easement will be granted and the money will be put in the county’s general fund. Towers asked that it be transferred to the conservation budget to pay for repair to the riffle. The supervisors approved that plan and a fund transfer of $15,000 will show on a future budget amendment.

Sheriff Jack Williams also reported good news to the supervisors. He said he had an offer from MidAmerican Energy of $4,000 to be used at his discretion. He plans to purchase a drone and two GPS tracking units. He said the drone will have a five mile/30 minute range. An eight-hour class and licensing by the FAA will be needed for all personnel who will use the drone.

County engineer Wade Weiss reported to the supervisors that the signage on 217th St at Grand Junction, the unofficial north detour while Highway 30 is closed, is as it should be. The supervisors asked Weiss to check the signage after Williams commented last week about the number of drivers who have gone off the road as they miss a corner. The sign in question is fairly new and has good retroreflectivity, Weiss said.

Skalla Farm Site – The supervisors reviewed the master matrix for a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) on G Ave south of 250th St in Section 24 of Scranton Township. There is currently one building with a capacity of 2,400 head operated by Luke Skalla. The additional building will be west of the existing building and will bring total capacity to 4,840.

The master matrix scored 480, with 440 needed for permitting. The matrix claims points for a closure plan but not for landscaping. Those two items have been mentioned by the supervisors in reviewing other matrices this year. Board chair noted there are weeds around the existing building rather than grass, which might be a concern.
A public hearing on the construction permit application is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 14, at 9 am in the boardroom at the courthouse.

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