Working by season

POCAHONTAS A year on the job for Jack Moellering can be divided into two seasons: snowplowing season and construction season.

Snow removal and road construction are two of the major things that occupy Moellering, who is the Pocahontas County engineer.

He said a ”bad snow season” creates the most hectic time on the job for him.

After the snow melts, major construction projects keep him scrambling between his office and work sites.

”I wasn’t seen in the office much when they were doing N28,” he said, referring to a major project completed on Pocahontas County Road N28 in 2011.

Getting projects like that done after spending hours upon hours preparing designs and, later, inspecting the progress at the work site, is what Moellering finds most rewarding about his job.

”I’m always looking forward to building that next item,” he said.

Among the items he’s helped to build are eight bridges on rural roads. The largest of them is the four-span Ham Bridge, named after a nearby landowner, in the northeast corner of the county.

As county engineer, Moellering is in charge of the Pocahontas County Secondary Road Department. It’s an agency with a roughly $5 million budget and 26 employees.

The department maintains 1,007 miles of road. It also performs minor maintenance for the drainage districts in the county.

By becoming a county engineer, he followed in the footsteps of his father, William Moellering, who was the county engineer in Fayette County. His father’s work inspired him to get into the same profession, he said.

The younger Moellering earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Iowa State University in Ames.

”The vast majority of county engineers are Cyclones,” he said.

He added that after graduating, he focused almost exclusively on getting a job with a county. He said that he likes the variety of work done by county engineers. Also, he said, he didn’t want to get ”stuck behind a desk all day.”

Moellering began working for Pocahontas County as an assistant engineer in 1991. He was promoted to county engineer in 2006.

Recently, he has been spending most of his time in the office, preparing the plans for all the projects to be done this summer. The largest of them will be repaving seven miles of Pocahontas County road C66.

He’s also writing a budget and five-year plan to be submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation before an April 15 deadline. That five-year plan will include three or four major paving projects, he said.

Additionally, Moellering is working on some road plans for the city of Fonda.