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November 12, 2019

10/18/2019 10:36:00 AM
County Board hears pleas to fight CHC, PSC

When Iowa County Board chairman John Meyers asked for additions to the agenda Supervisor Jim Griffiths asked for an amendment.
Griffiths asked that the item which deals with going into closed session to consider litigation about the recent PSC decision regarding CHC transmission line be moved to the front of the meeting and be held in open session. A roll call vote was taken and the amendment failed 9-8.
But that did not stop the public from commenting.
Alan Pincus, town of Brigham asked that the board continue opposing the project and make right what the PSC did not do.
Chuck Tennesen, Mineral Point asked those who oppose CHC in the audience to stand. Most of the audience stood.
Another who testified said the cost of opposing the line by litigation is nothing compared to the devastation building the lines will cause.
"Thank you for standing with us this long,"she said. "Please continue to do this."
Tia Fisher, town of Wyoming discussed the costs of the potential lawsuit. She said the heavy lifting will be done by the firm currently involved with the litigation.
"Put your trust in the judical process," she said.
Kate Cooper addressed the board and said winning the appeal will keep furture lines from locating in Iowa County.
"If we don't stop CHC there will be more lines locating here," she said.
She also talked about how transmission lines in California may have been responsible for sparks causing the wildfire.
Another resident said the trend toward renewable energy should eliminate the need for high voltage transmission lines.
"We pay while others benefit," he said if the high voltage lines are installed.
Another speaker warned about health problems thought to be caused by leakage from transmission lines which sends toxic materials into the atmosphere. She asked for the supervisors to act in favor of the people.
Jean Luecke was another who spoke against the line. A resident of Dodgeville she explained her passion for the driftless area,'s beauty. She called the decision to proceed as unjust and asked the board to oppose it further. She told the board they are responsible for the environmental mission of the county.
Four Iowa County residents said they have had their lives changed by the addiction and OWI programs that are available and urged keeping them going. They spoke of the benefits of going through the program and told success stories about their sobriety.
The board then approved land use changes for the town of Arena for Rick Peterson and in the town of Highland for Chris Carlson.
The board rejected a request from John Scullion, town of Highland, that would change a parcel from Agriculture to Recreational Business for a hunting preserve. The board felt the danger of live ammunition was too great
County Administrator Larry Bierke told the board that county employee Randy Sudmeier completed a long course that would help his work for Iowa County. He also introduced Bill Cole as Corporation Counsel for Iowa County.
Two appointments were made by the board. Bob Bunker will join the Land Conservation Committee and Elsie Jane Murphy will serve a three year term on the ADRC board.
The board rescinded a previously passed manure storage ordinance and adopted a new ordinance with minor language changes. Meyers told the board amendments can be made next meeting if the Land Conservation agency feels the language changes are not in keeping with the intent of the ordinance.
Along with the ordinance the board adopted a fee schedule.
The board spent considerable time discussing a resolution which would establish a 20 year long term capital highway improvement plan.
Supervisor Benish said he is opposed to the resolution as he feels it will create a much higher tax than people can afford. He said there is already a proposed levy this year that is high and this would increase it over $50 per thousand.
Supervisor Curt Peterson said he is in favor of a referendum so residents can have a say in highway improvements. Supervisors Griffith and Gollon both agreed with Peterson that a referendum should be considered. Gollon said the highway department is in a financial problem and added. "we are not talking nickels a dimes here."
Meyers agreed that a referendum levy should be considered as all the previous work done by other county boards is now "coming due" and needs to be addressed.
The board voted down the long term plan and approved forming a referendum committee to consider a referendum in 2020. Meyers will appoint the committee next month.
The board then approved a fee revision for the office of planning and development.
The board discussed a resolution that would support federal medicaid expansion. Supervisor Storlie spoke against the resolution as he feels the cost will eventually fall back on the county.
"People in the northern part of the county want nothing to do with this," he said.
He feels it is an entitlement program and will come back upon the citizens.
Meyers said the resolution is already in the county association book which a lot of counties promote
Tom Slaney from the Iowa County Department of Social Services addressed the board about the medicaid expansion resolution and said he feels it would help clients and agencies with citizens needing the services.
Supervisor Benish said there has not been a time when the counties accepting this have had to pay anything. He feels it is important for Iowa County citizens needing the service.
The board approved the resolution.
The board approved an agreement with the city of Dodgeville for property use for surveillance cameras.
Also approved was the dental insurance plan for county employees for 2020 as was a resolution adjusting the classification/compensation pay plan structure.
The board also approved the per diem compensation and mileage for the supervisors and per diem for the board chairman along with standing committee chairs. The rates stay the same except for the board chair who will receive an additional $200 per month under the approved resolution.
Susan Hepler addressed the board about funding the OWI addiction program that several spoke in favor of earlier in the meeting. She said 250 people have gone through the program and reaped the benefits.
"That is 250 families that have been helped," she said.
She appeared because she is concerned that the present program is being eliminated and a different program is being proposed which she feels is a very different model as it deals with longer term problems..
She said the current program is working and has for 10 years with much success.
DA Matt Allen said addiction is a problem in Iowa County said he is proposing an OWI court which is post treatment instead of pre treatment. He said he wishes the county could fund both.
Supervisors discussed the benefits of receiving help when the offense occurs vs going to a treatment court which would happen later in the process. Supervisor Peterson said that addictions are a lifelong illness and affects dozens of people. He feels that both programs are valuable and challenged administrator Bierke to find money for both.
Supervisor Benish asked for clarification if both programs would compliment each other. Allen feels what would happen would be having the ability to chart the course throughout for those who come into the program. He said he feels they could co-exist and compliment each other.
Supervisor O'Brien also spoke in favor of funding both programs.
Supervisor Deal also endorsed keeping both programs.
"This is a difficult decision to make," Meyers said. "We have a balanced budget now and we must pass a balanced budget. The supervisors will have to make the cuts to make it a balanced budget."
Allen said to fund both programs an additional $64,000 would be needed.
Benish asked the budget go back to the executive committee and bring it back next month.
The board then discussed the tax exempt application including bylaws and articles of incorporation for Scenic Hills, Inc., the joint nursing home venture between the county and Upland Hills Health. The board approved the document as presented. In a related matter the board authorized the board chair to sign documents on behalf of the county in lieu of meetings. Bierke said Upland Hills would have to approve the same thing.
The board approved two supervisors to serve on the Tri-County Airport Commission. Supervisors Deal and Storli agreed to represent Iowa County on the commission. Also added to the commission is Rich Valtierra who represents Cardinal Glass a the major user of the airport.
Winter hours for the board meetings will be 6 p.m. November through March.
The board met in closed session after the meeting to decide their involvement in the lawsuit against the PSC. After discussion the board voted 14-2 with one abstention to spend up to $50,000 in the suit.
Frank Jablonski of the Progressive Law Group, LLC met with the board in closed session to outline the suit and how it affects Iowa County. The board indicated they will decide next meeting where the funding will come from.

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