By Jim Magdefrau
VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors decided to ease restrictions on access to county buildings at their meeting Tuesday, April 6, at the service center conference room in Vinton.
The board met with officials before the decision.
Sheriff Ron Tippett explained they have met with the security committee on reopening the buildings, with social distancing on the first floor of the courthouse. He also reported the county has had a very good distribution of vaccines, delivering about 13,000 vaccines. The county has a population of about 26,000.
Tippett added that the public health director would still like to see screening at the door, which includes taking their temperature and asking questions.
Allowing the vaccine that was given on April 1 to take effect, it was recommended the easing of restrictions take place on April 15.
The county security committee still recommends masks and a cleaning schedule for facilities.
The board went by the recommendation of the security committee and emergency management, as long as people mask and do testing, as well as cleaning. Appointments will not be required, other than for driver’s licenses. Appointments are still needed for licenses due to the need to sanitize equipment.
Supervisor Richard Primmer, “I got numerous phone calls about ‘When are we going to open?’ It HAS been open,” he said of the courthouse.
A hearing was held for a construction permit application from Geno Source LLC, for a confinement feeding operation location in Section 25 of Leroy Township.
Land Use Administration Marc Greenlee explained the dairy is one mile south and east of Blairstown. Benton County is required to take certain actions when a confinement operation is proposed. These include providing public notice, review of the master matrix, score that review, and then make a recommendation to approve or disapprove based on the information in the matrix, as well as public comment.
No one from the public was present to comment. Matt Simon was at the hearing for Geno Source. Greenlee said Geno Source now has 2,850 head at the operation. They’d like to expand this to 3,950 head. Greenlee also reported on how the cattle will be housed.
The matrix looks at 16 items and the operation scored well. Greenlee also further explained manure handling for the proposal. The matrix also deals with air, community and water handling.
Simon said the facility is 21 years old and it was at the point that they needed to invest more money to make it last longer. They will also bring in new technology. Tours are given to people from many countries. They want to improve their image with state-of-the-art technology. He also explained how the facility will capture its methane through digesters.
When asked about a timeline, Simon said they will start with the sand room. The digester will start later. It will take about a year to get up to capacity.
Supervisor Tracy Seeman asked if there is a closure plan required, as is required for the county landfill. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not require this.
The supervisors recommended approval to the DNR. They unanimously approved the matrix as scored by the county. Supervisor Gary Bierschenk did not vote for the recommendation, and expressed concerns about handling manure if the plant ever closes.
A Class B liquor license was approved for Kimm’s Sunoco Corp.
Kyle Helland met with the board on the final plat and resolution for Cromer’s First Addition. It was approved by the board.
Bradley Allyn was approved as a driver for Benton County Transportation.
The board approved the MC-70 dust control fee.
The board approved Leah Larson as communication specialist at the law enforcement center.
Jennifer Kreutner was appointed to the Vinton Library Board.
Supervisor Richard Primmer was appointed to the hiring board for Benton County Veterans Affairs Director.