Supervisors Continue Black Oaks Clays Discussion

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors met in regular session on Monday, May 6, 2019 beginning at 9 am in the 3rd-floor conference room of the Mahaska County Courthouse.

Jeff Heil with Northland Securities was on hand to help lead the discussion on what steps were to be taken during the bonding process on the new emergency radio system for first responders within the county.

The board agreed to the 4.565 million bond amount on the emergency radio communications system, with a 2.93 percent interest rate.

The Supervisors approved the bonding for the radio system.

In regards to a 28E agreement with other counties over joining the SARA System, [Shared Area Radio Agreement] that would allow first responders to access the radio systems of neighboring counties, while also allowing outside first responders access to Mahaska County’s if they were within range. An example would be ambulance transfers to Iowa City or Des Moines, the ambulance would be able to stay in communication the entire way.

Supervisor Steve Parker asked Mahaska County EMA Director Jamey Robinson what the advantage was to joining the SARA System.

Robinson said that by joining with other users, they would get a vote on the board, which helps all participants be more aware of advocate for users of the system. ‘We still own and control the radio system, we’re not giving up any of that.”

Robinson said he wasn’t sure what the downside of not being a part of the SARA System would mean for Mahaska County

Mahaska County Supervisor Mark Groenendyk said that he consulted with the Mahaska County Attorney who said he noticed that many of the entities who join the SARA System, their 911 Boards sign the 28E agreement to do so. “It would be my recommendation to just sit tight on this. Let’s see how things work out.”

It’s planned that the new radio system will but “up and running” by June of 2020. The party that potentially signs the agreement may come from whomever the court system favors in the legal battle between the Supervisors and the 911 Board and Emergency Management.

The agenda item was tabled.

The Board then opened a public hearing in regards to Black Oak Clays.

Mark Doschadis spoke about how having the range there has impacted his quality of life at his home, which he has lived at for the past 30 years.

Doschadis said that in the past couple of years since the shooting range has been installed, he’s pretty much lost the quality of life due to the gunfire that he says is 400 to 500 thousand shots a year.

Doschadis says that the range has negative effects on 20 homes in the area, saying he has signatures to back that claim up.

Doschadis went on to say the law is in place to protect people from having their way of life and property values protected.

“We’re not trying to be mean to anybody at all, and take shooting away. This was supposed to be for the establishment and building of a shooting range,” said Doschadis. “Not to take something away from somebody else. And now that it gets all done, it gets turned around to where we are the people taking away something from somebody something that’s already been done. That’s not what the law says, and that’s not our intent. It was pushed on us and our neighborhood.”

“It’s bad in our house,” explained Doschadis. “I don’t know if you folks really know what it’s like. 20,000 shots on a Sunday and you’re sitting at your dinner table and you’re hearing that bang, bang, bang.”

“If it was just a few shots, a guy would go ah, it’s ok,” explained Doschadis. “All day, it’s just not right. it shouldn’t be.”

A Pella resident spoke to the board about how the range has been a positive in her family.

She explained that her son is in his fourth year on the Pella Shooting Team and that he’s benefited from the experience and is currently 5th in nation for sporting clays.

“Without the use of Black Oak Clays, for practice and competition, none of this would have been possible. Well, it may not have been possible,” she added.

The public hearing was closed with just the two coming forward to share their thoughts.

The Supervisors said they question the environmental side of the range, and who will be responsible for the cleanup of the lead shot.

Supervisor Steve Wanders says that the Environmental Protection Agency has a best practices plan and he would like to see that followed.

The EPA states on their website, “For example, best management practices for outdoor shooting ranges are practices that range owners/operators can use to minimize the impact of lead on the environment. Lead at outdoor shooting ranges may pose, in certain situations, a threat to the environment if best management practices, including reclamation and recycling, are not implemented in a timely manner.” –

Supervisor Mark Groenendyk said that he’s reached out to the EPA ended up at the office of waste management. It was recommended to him that the owner sign an agreement that best practices will be followed. “So the Feds do regulate this.”

Mahaska County Attorney Andrew Ritland said it’s up to the board to set the requirements needed for the structures and says that it’s a fair request from the supervisors for a plan to deal with the lead contaminants, saying it could be very costly if the lead has to be cleaned up.

Other items Ritland said should be considered for approval is the precise structures for the approval, which would include hours of operation and current use.

Ritland said that the range not only needs to seek approval for improvements to the property but also potential changes in the use of the structures, saying to document what the current use of the shooting range is.

The list being proposed include specific improvements Black Oak Clays is wanting a permit for. What is the intended use of the improvement, including marking on an aerial map the location of the improvement. Proposed hours of the use of the improved structures. The shot used and travel from improvement. Document the range safety officer and the rules and regulations concerning the improvement the officer will enforce. The certification letter of the EPA best management practices.

The Supervisors are also seeking an indemnity agreement with Mahaska County in the event ownership tried to walk away without paying for cleanup efforts.

Groenendyk told those in attendance that he also has been in contact with the National Rifle Association and that the debate with Black Oak Clays is not a Second Amendment issue, and they would have no reason to bring litigation on Mahaska County as a result.

The board ultimately took no action on the status of the Black Oaks Clays, though it was noted that a 60-day time frame has been given on the application developed by Mahaska County for shooting range improvements.

Mahaska County Board of Supervisors turned down a proposal made in a joint work session with members of the SCRAA, Supervisors, and the cities of Pella and Oskaloosa to form a committee to discuss options on farm to market road mitigation for 220th Street which is scheduled to be severed for the new airport.”

I’m satisfied with what we’ve got,” Mahaska County Supervisor Steve Wanders said of the current arrangement. “We gave them a plan. They need to follow coming from our engineering department. I don’t see the purpose of another board.”

“I tend to agree,” said Mahaska County Supervisor Steve Parker in response to Wander’s comment.

No official vote took place on the decision to forgo the committee.

The board also approved the use of the Courthouse parking lot for this year’s Sweet Corn Serenade.

Approved employee health care plan for the fiscal year 2019-20.

The next regular meeting of the Mahaska County Supervisors will be on May 20 at 9 am in the third-floor conference room.

Posted by on May 7 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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