O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

DD5 Completion Hearing Set


September 6, 2018

Finally, the end is near. The never-ending Drainage District 5 project is reaching it final act to close its books. The exact procedure, purpose and result have been under discussion for a few weeks. On September 4, 2018 Jason Bendixen and Rick Hopper attended the O’Brien County Supervisors meeting on behalf of Jacobson-Westergaard. Requirements of notification were discussed. Notice will be posted in newspapers about the hearing. Landowners whose property had work on it will be sent a letter directly. The hearing is for Trustees to hear claims for unresolved issues that might be damages from the work. That hearing is set for Tuesday October 9 at 10:00am in the Assembly Room.

Leading up to setting the date, discussion of outstanding change order #4, pay estimate #2, and the unresolved issue of bridgework on 300th Street were had between Hopper and Bendixen and the Trustees. Change order #4 has been confusing for engineers, County Auditor Barb Rohwer and the Trustees. Several discussions adding, approving, changing and deleting work throughout the project made it difficult to sort out what work and what materials are billable. In the end it was agreed by all parties on the correct number of clean water inlets, pipe and rip rap for billing. The change order was approved adding $33,065.00 to the overall project cost. Pay estimate #2 for $31,118.33. Final payment cannot be made before 30 days after the completion hearing.

The approximately $7000 for repair to the 300th Street bridge remains unresolved. The engineering firm is claiming no financial responsibility. Bendixen said, “We have given our pound of flesh to this project.” He maintains the position that the Trustees had no authority to do the work to the bridge when they did. Hopper’s comment was that this is a hard pill to swallow. They are taking the position that the proper procedure was to go through the engineering firm before directing the work to be done.

A big part of the liability discussion is currently centering on the installation of water inlets. Landowners did not want them installed, but the inlets are in the plans. Engineers have the authority to install the inlets despite the landowner’s wishes in this case. Because the inlets were engineered into the approved plan (no approved changes are on record), Trustees believe the damage is a result from not following the engineering plans.

Supervisor Sherri Bootsma said, “It was either $7000 to fix the bridge or $150,000 to replace it.” Bendixen claims neither the county nor the trustees had authority to fix the bridge because the engineers were not involved in the decision to fix or how to fix it.

Bootsma responded, “You did know. You were sent pictures. This was discussed several times.” Board Chair Dan Friedrichsen said, “You were sent more pictures of more damage.”

Tom Farnsworth made the final statement comment and Bendixen agreed, “Something had to be done. If we had waited for you guys to do something we would have lost that bridge.” Bendixen suggested tying too much water coming down the road ditch might be part of the problem of excessive runoff if this gets litigated.

Drainage District #5 is part of O’Brien County’s Federal disaster Declaration. Because of June Flooding in sanborn and hartley, FEMA will be evaluating the condition of the ditch and consider financial assistance. The FEMA process is expected to take up to 18 months. As part of FEMA mitigation, Supervisors are beginning to look at other drainage districts in O’Brien County.


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