Humboldt Supervisors hear drainage project concerns

DAKOTA CITY – The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors discussed a new drainage project between Gilmore City and Bradgate Monday.

The county has been awarded $1.5 million from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to establish a new drainage district, DD 125, between Gilmore City and Bradgate. The grant would pay up to 75 percent of the project, which would enable the closure of 12 agricultural drainage wells in the area,

A similar IDALS-funded project, DD 2, has been completed southeast of Gilmore City, but several landowners voiced concerns about the work and wanted to make sure the problems were brought to light before the new project started.

Robert Lynch, Gilmore City, a DD 2 landowner, asked the supervisors why the contractor, Schany Construction, Graettinger, didn’t follow the old main, why the tile was too deep in certain areas and why, apparently. some rejected tile was used. He also asked why an inspector was not on the site every day.

Lynch also said the contractor used elbows in connections which could work loose and cause future problems. Already holes have opened up in the ground which were simply covered over. He also said proper safety measures were not followed.

Supervisor Jerry Haverly said the county has had problems with the contractor in the past and he was under the impression there would be daily inspections.

“There were days when the inspector didn’t get here but I tried to get here. We missed some days, I know we did just because of conflicts with other construction,” said Drainage Engineer Rick Hopper of Jacobson-Westergard & Associates, Estherville.

He said his firm has had no major problems with Schany Construction and some farmers speak highly of the company’s work.

Hopper recommended a final inspection before the trustees accept the work. The trustees have up to one year after accepting completion to pay the contractor in full and they may decide to withhold the 10 percent retainage fee to pay for expenses.

At the board’s request Hopper will check into the complaints and report back to the board next week.

One landowner asked for a second engineer’s report on DD 125. Hopper said that was within the landowners’ rights, but a landowner would have to file a new petition and bond.

This could delay the project five or six months, which could jeopardize the grant, according to Hopper.

Haverly asked if the board had to accept the low bid if it came from Schany.

Hopper said the board had the option of not sending plans to the contractor. Even if the contractor obtained plans from another source and submitted a bid the board was under no obligation to open it, he said.

The board continued the hearing on the preliminary engineering report on DD 125 until Sept. 4 to give landowners the opportunity to file a new petition and ask for another engineer.