Long Siding ditch funding turned down

County engineer Bruce Cochran’s proposal to make repairs on County Ditch No. 14 at a cost of $11,415 was turned down by county commissioners at their Aug. 21 meeting.

The repairs, scheduled for the part of the ditch on the east side of Highway 169 just north of Long Siding, were talked about at a June meeting and proposals were sought in July from area contractors.

But when Cochran made  his request, a discussion ensued about reasons to do the repairs or to not do the repairs.

Commissioner Dan Whitcomb noted that the board had been discussing problems about county ditches for two years without doing anything.

“It’s nickeling and diming us to death,” he said.

Commissioner Roger Tellinghuisen disagreed.

“We have no choice but to fix it because it’s not working,” he said.

Engineer Cochran had said earlier that he would like the expenditure rounded up to $15,000 from the bid amount of $11,415 because he said it’s likely other problems would be found.

“There will be problems there forever unless you redig it [the ditch],” he said.

Commissioner Jack Edmonds said that maybe, since the repairs were “so temporary,” something cheaper might be a good idea.

As the discussion continued , County Administrator Roxy Traxler said she had plans to bring a drainage law advisor to a September meeting to talk about the process of repairing the ditch.

Traxler noted that state law says you can’t redo the whole ditch, and that you must maintain it to the quality of 1927 when it was built.

“I think we’ve got to get this done,” said Commissioner Phil Peterson, a farmer who said that the repairs are something the affected farmers need.

Whitcomb, who said throughout the discussion that the entire ditch system needs to be checked, made a motion to table the request to authorize the repairs and the motion carried.

Traxler plans to schedule a work session in September with the person who has knowledge of ditch statutes.

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