Should a full-time Decorah fire engineer be allowed to respond to fire calls as a volunteer? The issue was discussed by the public safety committee of the Decorah city council Tuesday. Fire engineer Zach Kerndt is not allowed to respond to fires as a volunteer after a decision by city manager Chad Bird. Bird says Kerndt would not be covered by workman’s comp or insurance should get hurt on the job as a volunteer. The two other full-time engineers, Jeff Ode and Darren Sander, are allowed to respond to fires as volunteers. Bird says they were grand-fathered in because they were engineers prior to the policy change. Ode asked why a talented, dedicated, knowledgable firefighter like Kerndt can’t serve the city when he’s willing and able to do so. Committee discussed the possibilities of allowing Kerndt to respond to calls while limiting his liability risk. Committee member Ross Hadley called that idea a good, common-sense compromise. The committee agreed to continue the discussion.
What should the city of Decorah do about deer? The public safety committee of the Decorah city council discussed the issue this week. City manager Chad Bird said he had a conversation with Ross Ellingson with the DNR. Ellingson advised Bird to not conduct a aerial survey. Ellingson told Bird the DNR has severely limited funding to assist cities with the surveys and the data is just a snap shot of that point in time. Bird says Ellingson advised the city to open up all city parks to hunting and have the city reimburse the hunters for the tags. When the city discussed the issue two years ago, the council did not support opening up park land for deer hunting. Bird says Ellingson said safety has not been a concern in other cities that have opened up land for hunting. Bird added hunters have told him they want to stay away from people while hunting. Committee chair Steve Luse said they will continue to discuss the issue.
The 2018 federal farm bill is heading to a conference committee. Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig says he doesn’t expect any major changes.
Naig is confident congress will resolve the issue before the current bill expires in September.
Northeast Iowa R-C and D will be teaming up with artist Mary Ann Gloe to develop postcards and posters of public natural areas along scienic byways in Northeast Iowa. The funding for the project is being made possible by a grant from the Iowa Depatment of Cultural Affairs. Through the project, the R-C and D will work with Gloe to identify six locations in Iowa State Parks from across the region. The project is scheduled to begin next month and run through June of 2019.
A Sumner man was transported from the Black Hawk to the Winneshiek County jail on a warrant for a parole violation. The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department says 44 year old Charles Evans was taken into custody Tuesday night.
A permit to allow Menards to construct a building in the Decorah flood plain has been approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The DNR notified Menards of the decision Wednesday. The DNR says any person has a right to appeal the issuance of the permit within 30 days. Earlier this month, representatives from the Iowa Flood Center told the Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission that a Menards facility would have a minimal impact on flooding. The same representatives said they expect more heavy rainfall events in the future. The matter is expected to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on August 13th.
A meeting will be held tonight to discuss the possibility of allowing ATVs and UTVs to drive on secondary roads in Winneshiek county will be held tonight. Meeting organizers say similar ordinances have passed in 33 counties, including Allmakaee, Clayton, Fayette and Howard. The meeting will begin at seven at the Danan Lansing Building on the Winneshiek county fairgrounds.
The 51st annual Nordic Fest begins tonight in Decorah. The opening ceremonies will begin at six-45 at the Winneshiek county courthouse square. The ceremonies will include performances by the Luren Singers and Nordic Dancers and honoring the fest grand marshall and flag recipient. Entertainment will begin in the downtown canopies following the opening ceremonies. The fest runs through Saturday in Decorah.