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Floyd County supervisors approve pager purchase, hear another wind farm project details

By Bob Steenson,

The Floyd County Board of Supervisors approved another part of the new county communications project at its meeting Monday morning, agreeing to put in an order for 173 pagers for county fire departments at a cost of more than $111,600.

Ben Chatfield, the Floyd Fire Department chief, said he had been contacted by the pager supplier and was told there is a promotion available if the order is placed by the end of this month to reduce the price per pager by $50, plus get a free third year of warranty added to the standard two years.

“It’s going to take up to 90 days to get them. We probably won’t be in a position to start using them until March or April, because they have to get the dispatch center and the tower working with the upgrades,” Chatfield said, “but there’s $8,650 savings if we order them now, and there is the potential that they could go up between now and then if we wait to order them.”

The pagers are part of an almost $5 million project to provide new handheld, mobile and base radios, pagers and a new radio tower to get all law enforcement, fire departments and some other emergency responders in the county on the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS), to improve the reliability of radio communications among the groups countywide.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Heard about another proposed wind energy farm in Floyd County, with Invenergy representatives telling the supervisors about a proposed 180-megawatt project that would include 30 to 50 wind turbines.

Isaac Lamppa, an associate for renewable development for Invenergy, said he worked on the Chickasaw Wind Energy Center in Chickasaw County and that 200 megawatt project with 66 turbines is estimated to produce more than $100 million in tax revenue for the county over its 40-year life span.

Merlin Bartz, a former Iowa legislator who is now county outreach manager in Iowa for Invenergy, and Lamppa were at the meeting to talk about the project and answer questions.

Lamppa said the company already had more than 8,000 acres signed up for easements in Floyd County, but the soonest construction would begin is 2026. The proposal is that once construction begins it be completed in one year to avoid disrupting more than a single crop growing season.

Lamppa, echoing a comment made by a representative of another proposed Floyd County wind farm, NextEra Energy, last week, said all easements are voluntary and no requests for eminent domain is used for its projects.

He said that the 3.1 megawatt turbines have a blade height at the top of their rotation of 499 feet, but even their largest 6.5 megawatt turbines, if they should be used, top out with a blade height of under 600 feet.

Lamppa said there is no set height ceiling, and the company works with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense to set the heights for each project location.

He also said his company is working with the FAA to develop a system that would use radar to only turn on blinking red lights on the turbine towers when a plane is in the area, which dramatically cuts down the time the lights are on at night.

• Approved a budget amendment allocating spending for the county communications project and spending down American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for various projects, among other shifts in revenue and expenditures.

• Heard a report from County Engineer Jacob Page regarding greater vehicle weight access on county roads. Page said there is still some confusion on a new state project to expand overweight access for truck operators who buy a special permit, and it appears the state may be using an “opt-out” rather than an “opt-in” plan, meaning he would have to provide engineering justification for why a road should not be included in the program to keep it out.

Page said that roads that already have lower weight restrictions on them because of bridge restrictions or other reasons will continue to have those restrictions.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a harvest proclamation that increases the weight limit for trucks on state highways for agricultural reasons to 90,000 lbs. for most roads, not including the interstate system.

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