Supervisors accept bid for first phase of siren project

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Marshall County Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder addresses the Board of Supervisors about the siren project during Wednesday morning’s meeting. The board ultimately accepted a bid from Federal Signal for 10 sirens around the county at a cost of $312,051.88.

With only two action items after the consent agenda, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting wrapped up in about a half hour Wednesday morning, but not before the board accepted a bid from Federal Signal for the first phase of the long-awaited siren project.

The board had tabled action on the matter during its previous meeting two weeks ago to allow for further review of the three bids, and Chairman Jarret Heil said a committee that included Auditor/Recorder Nan Benson, Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder and County Engineer Paul Geilenfeldt was assembled with a scoring system applied to each one.

“The good news is that we had bids that were within our grant amount, so that’s, number one a good thing, and number two, fulfilled all of our needs,” Heil said. “We felt that we had two that were the most competitive together, which, that’s always good when you have those kinds of options.”

Elder then stepped forward to the podium and thanked the bidders before a loud burst of feedback noise at least vaguely resembling a siren briefly interrupted her.

“That’s one way to make me be quiet,” she joked.

Once she was able to resume her remarks, she said county leaders also consulted with the Marshall County 911 Communications staff to ensure that the “backbone piece” works with their equipment and the new equipment so the sirens can be set off when needed. According to Elder, Marshalltown and Le Grand have opted to keep the sirens they already have, so it was crucial to integrate the new backbone with those systems.

Heil then recommended that the board accept Federal Signal’s bid of $312,051.88 without solar options or additional upgraded software but including options for traffic control permits, removal of custom and controller installs, labor and rock. Excavation will not be included. This will allow for the installation of 10 sirens around the county at locations previously reported in the T-R, and the cost came in under the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) grant amount of around $384,000 for this phase.

Supervisor Carol Hibbs, who attended the meeting by teleconference, asked if accepting Federal Signal’s bid would require that the county commit to the company again for the next phase, and Heil said they would have to open it back up for bids when that day came. She also wondered about potential compatibility with other equipment and hoped the board would still have flexibility going forward.

“The commitment we make today isn’t necessarily the commitment for the next phase,” Heil said.

Elder provided additional clarification that the backbone equipment would work with any of the other sirens.

“The three that bid this could also bid that any anyone else as far as that goes, but the three that bid this would also be compatible for our next phase,” Elder said.

With her concerns addressed, Hibbs made a motion to accept Federal Signal’s bid, and it passed by a unanimous vote. Benson noted that two of the three bids received the same “score” from the committee, and the only difference came down to price.

The only other action item of the day was approving a 28E agreement between Marshall and Tama counties for the services of new zoning director, sanitarian and weed commissioner Taveis Stevens. Heil explained that when Todd Apfel previously held the position, he was considered a part-time employee of both counties, but this arrangement made the job more appealing and competitive with benefits included.

Marshall County will cover 60 percent of the contract while billing Tama County quarterly for the other 40 percent, and Benson said that in Tama County, the Public Health Department actually covers the sanitarian’s duties, requiring slightly more work in Marshall County.

“You never know what the workload’s gonna be until people start calling you, so that’s why the discrepancy is 60/40,” Benson said.

County Attorney Jordan Gaffney drafted the agreement and indicated the only potential lingering question was how frequently Marshall County would bill Tama County. Heil said there was no cash flow issue, so he was fine with keeping it quarterly. A motion to approve the 28E agreement passed by a 3-0 vote.

In other business, the board:

Approved the consent agenda as listed.


Contact Robert Maharry

at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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