Conservation conversation

Supervisors vote on conservation resolution, discuss extraction equipment with city officials

It takes money to maintain the 29 conservation sites in Marshall County, and the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved funding from user fees to go to the Marshall County Conservation Board reserve account.

“This reserve account is used primarily for conservation lands acquisitions and infrastructure upkeep,” said Marshall County Conservation Director Mike Stegmann to the board. “Basically, what we’re doing is asking for your permission to take the rent from those (county conservation) amenities and deposit them into the conservation reserve fund.”

The board unanimously approved the move. Stegmann said the user fees come from things like shelter house rentals and use of recreational equipment like kayaks, canoes, skis and snow shoes.

“We’ve worked on this a long time; our theory is, these are the user fees that go back to maintaining the facilities, so that the people that actually use them are maintaining them,” said board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson.

Stegmann said the funds from the reserve account could be useful for upkeep or repairs.

“We’ve been encouraged to look at alternative sources of funding, and if we can capitalize on this, we will,” he said.

Fees from the future Green Castle Recreation Area campground were excluded from the resolution.

“It’ll require additional staffing, it’s the intent to take a portion of the income from that campground, when it’s fully functioning, to fund the staff positions that it will take to support that,” Stegmann said of the future campground.

One discussion item on Tuesday’s agenda was of an agreement between the City of Marshalltown and the county for a purchase of extraction equipment, or Jaws of Life, to replace older equipment. The equipment being discussed is estimated to cost between $25,000-$29,000, and no action was taken on the issue Tuesday.

“Knowing that it’s your budget preparation time, just like it is ours, we’re looking to replace the extrication equipment that was purchased in 2005,” said Marshalltown Fire Chief David Rierson. “Part of the reason for making this request is that automobile manufacturers have gone to more ultra high-strength and high-strength alloys and steels in their cars, so these older hydraulic tools have a little bit of difficulty cutting them.”

Rierson said extra time taken to cut through the metal can be critical, and added the proposed new equipment would be battery-powered rather than hydraulic.

“No more power units, no more hydraulic hoses, these tools run off of a 36-volt ion battery,” Rierson said, adding the battery-powered tool could last 10 to 12 years.

He said the Marshalltown Fire Department, a full-time agency, responded to 131 calls in the county for vehicle extraction since 2014, out of which they performed 59 extractions.

Marshall County Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder said seven of the 17 county fire response districts currently have extraction equipment. Some of those districts from outside the county, like Gladbrook, respond to calls in the county.

Some rural fire departments, such as the one in State Center, are raising funds to purchase extraction equipment as well. The board showed interest in having a presence at the next meeting of county fire chiefs in December.

In other business

Tommy Lamb was appointed to a three-year term on the Marshall County Commission of Veterans Affairs Tuesday. Board member Steve Salasek also called for additional volunteer drivers for the commission’s van service to Des Moines and Iowa City VA hospitals.

“It’s gotten to the point where many of the drivers have to drive twice a month, which would be every other week,” he said. “It’s come back a little bit here, but they still could use about three more (drivers) … we don’t want the program to go away.”

Salasek, a volunteer driver himself, said a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is not required, but a physical examination is needed.

The REM Bell Choir was approved for a musical bell program at 10 a.m. Dec. 21 on the second floor rotunda of the Marshall County Courthouse. They will be playing traditional Christmas songs.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. Nov. 28 in meeting room No. 2 on the third floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com