Ditch 14 saga takes another turn

By Luther Dorr

The continuing saga of County Ditch No. 14 north of Long Siding took another turn at the County Board’s June 19 meeting when problems on the east side of Highway 169 were discussed.

The past two years the county has spent about $30,000 repairing the ditch on the west side of the road on Wilhelm Farms property.

This time a number of problems have been spotted on the other side of the road where there is a flow problem.

County engineer Bruce Cochran told county commissioners that a day earlier he had walked through the area with Commissioner Roger Tellinghuisen and landowners Al Bekius and Virgil Schmatz.

He brought aerial photographs to show commissioners and told of at least three problems that were easy to see in the stretch they walked.

There is a large hole where there is a broken pipe, there is another 15-foot stretch farther east that needs repair, and farther east there is a manhole broken down and damaged.

“We can make some repairs during the growing season,” he suggested to commissioners, “or we can do a long-term reassessment of the ditch.”

Cochran said he would eventually like to do a reassessment of the county’s whole ditch system by sending a camera through the ditches.

Tellinghuisen said “the hole is deep enough to bury a Volkswagen. That could be a problem. The big question is, if this gets fixed, is everybody going to be happy again?”

Commissioner Jack Edmonds said he agreed with Tellinghuisen that even though the hole was a ways off the highway, it could be a problem.

“We’ve just been doing Band-Aids,” he said. “We do need to fix number one (the hole).”

“But there’s no point doing just number one because number two will still cause problems,” Tellinghuisen responded.

Talking about the hole, Tellinghuisen asked, “Who’s liable? The landowner or the county or …?”

“You could direct the county engineer to put up signs,” said County Administrator Roxy Traxler.

Later that day county employees put up orange fencing around the hole which is located just off 100th Avenue, a few miles north of Princeton.

On Monday of this week Cochran said the ditch is flowing better now that some debris has been removed and that he was seeking bids to repair the three problems noted last week. He’d like to bring those bids to the next County Board meeting on July 3, he said.