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Letter to the Editor,
While the letter addressed to the Board of Supervisors in response to a letter written by the Iowa DOT dated December 14, 2018 has a lot of good information in it, we are already aware of the code sections pertaining to a county engineer, having gone through the hiring process in 2017.
The Board meets weekly with a member of the secondary roads department to get an update on the activities taking place within the department, providing oversight on various projects. There have been a number of projects which have exceeded budget over the past year which have in turn spurred additional inquiries by the Board as to the cause. “Routine directives” in large part is a misconception derived from what we can assume is a disgruntled employee, who we wish would speak directly with the Supervisors about these concerns so they may be properly addressed.
All maintenance work currently taking place is falling under the direct supervision of Road Superintendent. We feel it is important to note this is the same practice we followed in 2017 when we lost then County Engineer.
We are also aware of our bridge funding and the risk we face of losing next year’s allocation. While it of course is not ideal, we do have more than enough maintenance work to keep our department busy if we were to lose those funds.
Iowa Code Section 309 is familiar to us as well. We can assure the public, we are not sitting idly by hoping an engineer appears. We have taken numerous steps to secure a county engineer. We are advertising locally, on our county website, Workforce Development, through ISAC, DOT, Engineer’s Association, Facebook, Indeed and NACO. We are working with a recruiting company out of Nebraska as well as our HR Consultant Mike Galloway with Ahlers & Cooney. Most recently we secured a booth at the Iowa State Engineer Career Fair, which was held on February 12.
We are taking every step necessary to obtain an engineer. We truly do understand the importance of an engineer’s role and are working diligently to fill the position.
We have also reached out to surrounding counties to inquire about hiring one on an interim basis and no one is willing.
We have already received one resume from an ISU student and are hopeful that the career fair next week will prove beneficial.
With regards to the citation of the open meeting laws, we do not believe the enforcement of these rules fall under the authority of the DOT, rather the Iowa Public Information Board. However, just so you are aware, the “meeting” to which you are referring was a session the Board all did attend to gather information. There was no deliberation nor directives provided. It was no different than all of us attending ISAC and sitting in on the same type of sessions.
Regardless of opinion, we do take our position very seriously. It is our duty to provide oversight on the budget as due diligence to the taxpayers of our county. We are working very hard to find a county engineer and have appreciated our relationship with the DOT in the past. Nicole Fox was extremely helpful during our last search. However, we feel this letter was unnecessary and written as to make an example of Ringgold County. It has done nothing more than divide the employees within the department and ended up costing us a candidate for the engineer position. During our last absence of an engineer no letter was sent. There was complete open communication via email and phone calls. This is our hope moving forward so as to not unnecessarily waste everyone’s time with these back and forth written letters (copied to so many people, to which we do not understand).
Continual improvement of our county is our number one priority. Everyone working together is what makes this happen.
Ringgold County Supervisors