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Woodbury County Courthouse exterior

The Woodbury County Courthouse, which opened in March 1918 at 620 Douglas St., houses courtrooms and most county departments.

SIOUX CITY | Emergency repairs to the Woodbury County Courthouse bottom-tier columns are on the way, and at a less than estimated cost.

The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday also made changes to a rural drainage district composition, after the first major study of that entity in decades.

The supervisors approved an emergency repair project contract with Vector Construction, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $21,661. The work will take roughly a week and be done in October.

Three weeks ago, county Building Services Department Director Kenny Schmitz had roughly estimated the column repairs at $50,000.

"It is quite a bit less than what we had anticipated, which is very good," Schmitz said.

The upcoming repair will address deterioration of four columns, with the worst two on the east side of the courthouse. Vector Construction will aim to halt the corrosion by applying a coating of zinc that will meld with the existing steel-reinforcing bars.

"Sub-basement column deterioration over many years has exposed rusty rebar within the column pilings, forcing large pieces of concrete to break away," Schmitz wrote in an August memo.

This marks at least the third time in 18 months such emergency repairs have been ordered in the aging courthouse, which the supervisors are considerably fixing up now, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are doing that work before the building marks 100 years of operation in 2018.


In other business, the county supervisors, who also act as the trustees for the Wolf Creek Drainage District, approved the annexation of new properties into the district and deleted some existing properties.

Several hundred drainage districts were created in Iowa about 100 years ago as landowners followed state law in banding together to help control creeks and streams near farmland. It was a way to try to ensure that crops would not be destroyed by floods. Owners along several-mile tracts combined to fund drainage systems of mutual benefit.

Wolf Creek Drainage District lies east of Anthon, Iowa, in the county. County Engineer Mark Nahra said the possible annexation of properties arose out of complaints about drainage in the southern stretch of Wolf Creek. Nahra said it was time to consider changing the properties included.

To help with that research, the ISG engineering firm of Storm Lake, Iowa, prepared a report that was discussed Tuesday. That report said some landowners in the rural Willow and Grant townships are getting drainage benefits without paying for them, and so recommended seven parcels covering 246 acres be annexed into the district.

The report also recommended 911 acres of land on roughly 20 tracts be removed from the drainage district, since they "have never received drainage or flood benefit from the facilities of the Wolf Creek Drainage District."

Landowners Timothy Dahms and Daniel Hair, spoke against the annexation and asked the supervisors to drop the issue. Dahms said making the drainage district changes would be "a huge waste of money," and wouldn't address actual drainage needs.

The five supervisors/drainage trustees unanimously voted to make the changes Tuesday. The next step is for Nahra to compute the amounts the district's new landowners will pay for drainage benefits, based upon the beneficial impact on each property.

"It is vital at this time to review the taxation of the benefited properties within the district, so that the expense of upcoming (drainage) projects is appropriately addressed," Nahra wrote in a memo.

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County and education reporter

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