County will make a few changes after emergency drill

Emergency Management officials got a rare look into how the Government Center would respond to a disaster last Thursday.

The county held a disaster training session, which included a suspicious package, an evacuation and a power outage. Now county officials will use that to improve.

“This is an opportunity to decide what we need to do and what we need to change,” said County Coordinator Craig Oscarson.

Safety Coordinator Amy Lammey, who helped plan the drill, described the test as key to not only helping officials prepare for an emergency, but also identify weaknesses within the county’s plans and power generator system.

After finding the “suspicious package” and cutting the power to the Government Center, most staff evacuated to Public Works, where power was also cut.

Austin Utilities officials were on hand, and Emergency Management employees checked where there was power from generators.

Dispatch continued working unhindered on backup power, but the air conditioning shut down, making the space heat up quickly.

Other Government Center and Law Enforcement Center offices — including some in the Sheriff’s office — did not have generator power. Employees will reevaluate what offices should have power to ensure key spots are operational in case of an emergency situation.

Oscarson said the areas that didn’t come online with power weren’t essential offices, but one office will likely be added to the emergency generator.

Property owners face issues with septic systems affecting Turtle Creek

Several Mower County property owners are facing costly questions, but some got temporary relief from the county Tuesday.

Environmental Services Director Angie Knish said a septic system assessment found many homes Udolpho, Lansing, Austin and Lyle townships posed “imminent public health threats” along Turtle Creek and will need to be repaired or replaced, which could be costly.

The systems likely have pipes that dump into Turtle Creek, according to Commissioner Ray Tucker.

The effected property owners have been split into two groups and are meeting to find out how to move forward.

“They’ll get to weigh out what they find best for their situation,” Knish said.

A deadline for the repairs has been waved while a study is completed.

Seven lots in the area are undeveloped, and the county board passed a resolution Tuesday allowing people to build with conditions on the septic systems.

“I think we need to do something — have a little flexibility in there,” Knish said.

One condition is that the systems must be investigated by a private party. Once the rest of the property owners choose a direction, the undeveloped property owners will be brought online with the option.

All properties are working to get into compliance, but Knish said it could take one to two years to finish.

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