The boardroom in the basement of the Palo Alto County Courthouse was packed Tuesday morning, July 24, during the regular meeting Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors.
Approximately 18 Ayrshire area residents were in attendance to petition the board to install and maintain a night security light at the intersection of Highway 4 South and B53.
Allen Stangl acted as spokesman for the group. He presented each member of the board with a copy of a signed petition requesting the placement of the light.
"We feel it's a very unsafe condition because of semis and because of the obstruction of trees," Stangl shared. "There are lights at most of the bypass corners in the county that are as busy as ours is."
He noted that he had called the regional headquarters of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative (ILEC) in Cherokee, who directed him to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in Sioux City. The DOT then directed Stangl to the Palo Alto County Engineer, who, in turn, directed him to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors.
"So, I called ILEC directly and asked if a pole could be put there and they said 'yes' and that it would cost $1,087 to install the pole, the light, everything," said Stangl. "They said it would cost $270 a year or $22.50 a month to operate. That's not even a dollar a day. In light of all the money we spend on other things, I just don't see how we can not have that corner be safer than it is."
"Is this basically because of turning traffic?" asked Supervisor Leo Goeders.
"Well, it is and it isn't because if you're the car behind the one in traffic, you might be going straight, but you're still going to be in an accident," Stangl answered. "With Poet and AGP, you have a lot of traffic there."
Supervisor Ed Noonan agreed, "I'm in favor of a light. I drive that road all the time."
Chairman of the Supervisors, Keith Wirtz, asked if solar lights were an option.
"No," said Stangl. "Solar is so expensive."
"It's a minimum of $5,000 just for the equipment for a solar light," Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz added.
Fantz noted that approximately a year ago he had reflectors installed at the intersection. However, those in attendance at the meeting stated that the reflectors were ineffective.
"Joel, you can't even see them," said Jan Stowell, Ayrshire resident. "I almost got creamed by a semi the other night at that corner."
"Obviously, whatever the board decides, it's their responsibility," said Fantz. "From a cost standpoint, it's low for one intersection, but we get this request every couple years for other intersections. We look very hard at what we spend money on. We look at safety or driving down crime rates when installing lights. Obviously, crime is not a problem at this location, and checking the accident history, there is none."
Fantz added that there is a reflective street sign at the location, as well as a large green sign pointing to the city of Ayrshire.
"It's better for us to be proactive than wait for a death," Stangl interjected.
"This will probably open us up to other lighting requests, however it's a busy road and I move to put up a light at that corner and maintain it," said Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. Noonan provided a second. The motion passed unanimously.
"When this many people show up, you know it's a real concern," Wirtz surmised, bringing the meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors to a close.