By DUANE NOLLEN
The Oskaloosa Herald
The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors approved having the county attorney review a draft 28E agreement to provide Haz Mat services in Mahaska County during its meeting Monday.
Mahaska County Emergency Management Coordinator Jamey Robinson told the supervisors that insurance representatives wanted to review a 28E agreement to determine if the county’s liability would increase or decrease if Mahaska County left the Southeast Iowa Response Group to provide its own hazardous materials clean-up services.
Mahaska County currently pays the SIRG $18,000 per year for Haz Mat services.
Board Chairman Greg Gordy was concerned about the expense of leaving SIRG with its complement of equipment and its new facility to start over to buy equipment for Mahaska County.
Robinson said that the Ottumwa Fire Department has eight members to do Haz Mat coverage of a 14-county area and is considering expanding into Missouri. He said Mahaska County is paying SIRG for its coverage, not its equipment.
Robinson said the Oskaloosa Fire Department already has trained personnel and some of its own Haz Mat equipment.
“How much more money do we need to send down there?” Robinson asked.
Supervisor Mike Vander Molen said he has spoken to former supervisors Lawrence Rouw and Ken Rozenboom about the county providing its own Haz Mat services, and they both supported the idea as does the Oskaloosa and New Sharon fire chiefs.
“We’re regionalizing within Mahaska County,” Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff said.
The Oskaloosa Fire Department can pool its resources with the New Sharon and Fremont fire departments to cover Haz Mat incidents.
Neff pointed to a 2007 Haz Mat incident in Oskaloosa dealing with a leak from a rail car. He said it took from 10:30 a.m. to 1:52 p.m. For the SIRG to resolve the problem that really only took 28 minutes to fix.
“I know we can provide the citizens of Mahaska County with better service,” Neff said.
Neff said there are three levels of Haz Mat clean-up and the Oskaloosa Fire Department is capable of handling all three levels.
“It’s the right thing to do — move forward,” Vander Molen said.
Gordy was still concerned about insurance issues with the proposed 28E agreement.
“Let’s go ahead and develop it — get the wheels in motion,” Vander Molen said.
In other action, the supervisors approved naming County Auditor Sue Brown as the person to take Open Records requests for the Board of Supervisors and the Secondary Roads Department. The supervisors also approved requiring a 50 percent deposit for Open Records request copying fees that are $100 or more. The balance would be paid by the person making the request when the records are delivered.
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org