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Supervisors discuss options on Hazard Mitigation Plan

Friday, March 16, 2012

County takes issue with SIMPCO time lag

The Cherokee County Board of Supervisors heard from Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Ben Schuberg on Tuesday regarding the status of the Cherokee County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Members of the Alta-Aurelia School District, who would like to build a tornado safe room, recently approached Schuberg on the matter.

Schuberg addressed several concerns regarding the HMP, saying that he could not move forward with the school district's request for grant funding due to the fact that the HMP is not completed.

For the past several years the County, along with each town, has completed their requirement but a logjam of sorts has occurred on the next level of getting the plan enacted.

Cherokee County has been working with the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) to complete the HMP. SIMPCO acts as an entity for counties preparing the HMP and representing them to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Schuberg described that SIMPCO is taking longer than they should on completing the HMP. He wanted to know from the Board what his options are to get them to complete the HMP. Schuberg asked the Board if they could cancel their contract with SIMPCO or if it would be prudent to have another entity complete the HMP.

Over the past year Schuberg has held several HMP meetings with SIMPCO and the general public and can't understand what the hang-ups are.

Schuberg stressed the importance of having the HMP completed because of HMP is critical when writing grants for safety projects such as the one proposed by the Alta-Aurelia School District.

Schuberg doesn't want to drag the HMP process out until the end of the current grant period ends in August of 2013. He stated that funds might still be available for such projects at that time but the grants are giving out on a first come, first serve basis.

Supervisor Jeff Simmonsen suggested that Schuberg contact one of the Co-Directors of SIMCO and see what can be done to speed up the HMP. Supervisor Terry Graybill took a tougher approach by suggesting if the County doesn't receive the HMP from SIMPCO by May 13 that the County may go someplace else.

The Board agreed on action regarding the HMP and told Schuberg to contact SIMPCO and let them know there are other options that the County is considering and they do not want to hold up a school request to get a tornado shelter built.

In related SIMPCO issues, Schuberg also wanted to discuss the County's Community Block Grant contract through SIMCO. That contract would entitle people who qualify to receive funds for damages that were received last year when a tornado touched down in the southern part of Cherokee County. Schuberg stated that no one has come forward with a claim and would like to see other communities in need to use this grant.

The Board was not in the mood to sign SIMPCO's request and may not sign the contract at all if SIMPCO doesn't get the HMP done.

Counties and cities pay an annual membership fee to belong to SIMPCO.

Schuberg then turned to other business and brought a revised version of the County's RAGBRAI ordinances to be reviewed by the Board. Minor changes in language were highlighted through the ordnances and Schuberg and the Board agreed to have Cherokee County Attorney Ryan Kolpin review the language changes.

Schuberg's final bit of business with the Board was to seek the Board approval draft to enter in to an agreement with Siouxland Regional Transit System to provide bus services for handicap residents during a County emergency. The Board approved his request.

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