Groups have one week to come up with plan and funds for bridge
Individuals or groups who would like to preserve the Bunker Mill Bridge have a week to come up with a plan. That’s the length of time the Washington County Board of Supervisors is willing to hear serious and credible plans to use the bridge in some fashion.
County engineer Jacob Thorius told the supervisors during their weekly meeting today that the county’s bridge consultant says the bridge is too dangerous to inspect. He also said that working on the bridge would be a waste of secondary roads funds and that if individuals or groups want to use it for recreational purposes, that needs to be turned over to the county conservation department.
The bridge was heavily damaged by fire on Aug. 11, Thorius said. The deck was completely destroyed. He recommended the bridge be removed as soon as possible. He said the bridge, built in 1887, was closed to vehicular traffic in 2004. He said that efforts to preserve the bridge have not been successful.
The engineer also said the bridge in its present condition exposes the county to liability. He said he wanted to continue the steps needed to remove the bridge, including sending letters to contractors to get quotes on how much it would cost to remove the bridge.
Supervisor Bob Yoder said he would like the bridge to be on next week’s agenda so that the board can take public comments.
In his report, Thorius also said that fire and law enforcement officials believe the fire was deliberately set. A sheriff’s deputy saw the bridge at 2:30 a.m. Aug. 11, and the fire call to Kalona went out at about 5:30 a.m. It wasn’t caused by someone leaving a cook fire unattended.
The board approved a motion to let the county engineer continue the steps needed to remove the bridge and to receive public comment at the Sept. 3 board meeting.
Thorius also announced that he has hired an assistant county engineer, Bryan Horesowsky. Horesowsky is originally from Kalona, and he is a graduate of the University of Iowa.
Later in the meeting, county attorney Larry Brock said he has hired an assistant county attorney, Monica Slaughter of Des Moines. He said she graduated from Drake University Law School.
In other business, the board:
• approved a draft of a proposed floodplain ordinance. The public hearing and first reading will take place during the Sept. 3 board meeting;
• approved the second reading of the ordinance to rescind zoning and passed it on to the third reading, which is expected to take place Sept. 3;
• acknowledged the letter from Jason and Jeff Bell asking that the lease agreement be terminated due to current decreases in farm prices. The Bells rent about 102 acres of county-owned land; and
• approved a five-year extension of an Ainsworth tax incrementing finance district for the Stout Addition, which is located south of Highway 92 on the west end of Ainsworth. Yoder voted no on the roll call vote. He wanted to delay the vote until after finding out how the Highland school board voted on the extension.