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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission cancels overtime for road crews

Updated: Jun 10

The Linn County Commission on Tuesday, May 28, rescinded an order for road crews to put in overtime to repair roads damaged by flooding. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY  – After learning that the road and bridge crew had worked a considerable amount of overtime during the last pay period, the Linn County Commissioners decided to stop the overtime work on Tuesday, May 28.

The commission had approved the overtime work last month as a way to speed up repairs to damaged roads and bridges following flash floods earlier in the month. Shaun West, director of the Public Works Department, estimated at that time that flooding had caused $4 million in damage to roads and bridges.

At Tuesday’s meeting, though, Commission Chair Jason Hightower said, “We will not be funding overtime as a rule, we will go back to our regular policy.”

Commissioner Jim Johnson said, “I can’t see that it does a bit of good myself.”

And Commissioner Danny McCullough said, “ I agree we need to define our expectations of the graders, the foremen and the supervisors before we continue to pay overtime. I think we’ve got to define their job duties and what we expect out of them. I don’t know how, have a trial and error period where if it doesn’t work, we find a different way. But I think we’ve got a lot of people running too wild right now.”

In other business, the commissioners:

• Learned that road and bridge had received 225 service requests in 2024 year to date and that 24 remain open. From May 20 to May 24, 16 new service requests were received and five have been closed, 11 remain open.

• Received a report that the track loader at the transfer station went down with a final drive leak. The staff at the transfer station are using the county’s south shop loader, and mechanics will be working on the issue.

• Learned that three road graders went down last week, but they are all back in service.

• Were informed that the road plans had been submitted to the road foremen and copies were sent to the commissioners asking them if changes needed to be made to let the Public Works Department know. The foremen also have follow-up questions that need clarification. 

Johnson pointed out that the commissioners asked that the percentage of completion be reported to the commissioners, and he did not see that in the plans.

• Paid weekly claims in the amount of $1.16 million. Johnson said that a large part of that $1.05 million was for the jail debt service payment.

• Heard from Angie Randall, Pleasanton, during public comment that the commission was not going into legal executive sessions correctly. She said they should be explaining they were going in for attorney-client privilege.  

• Heard from Emily Thies, solar opponent, that several of the solar opponents had been contacted by Heartland Electric Cooperative asking them to write letters to the that the company could present to the commission if they were not opposed to Heartland’s small solar farm project.

Thies asked if there was a moratorium why was Heartland asking for them to write a letter. 

Hightower assured Thies that the county was still under a moratorium for accepting applications for solar projects.

Thies said she thought the project was being discussed with someone in the county, probably Planning and Zoning Director Darin Wilson, but she said that was the question for the commissioners not for her. She said she just wanted the commissioners to know this was going on.

County Counselor Mark Hagen explained that Wilson, as the director of Planning and Zoning Department, has an obligation to respond to customer inquiries. If Heartland reached out to the planning and zoning director and asked what was the status of the moratorium and if there was a way to lift the moratorium for their particular project, that’s a valid question to ask.

• Agreed to roll the duties of the housing committee into the economic development committee. Economic development director Jessica Hightower has informed the commissioners that she has had problems getting members for the housing committee and can’t seem to get quorum when a meeting is held. 

She wrote in her report to the commissioners that the committee had served its purpose when working with the countywide housing survey but now the grant distribution duties could be moved to the economic development committee. She said that if they need to do another study or something along those lines they can form a steering committee to do that project just like they did with the comprehensive plan.

• Learned that the airport committee received the answers needed from the appraiser. After hearing from the county counselor and going over the information, she will present the recommendations to the commissioners.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 • Heard that dust control was applied last week except for some in the southern part of the county due to a weather delay.

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