• Sun December 30 2007
  • Posted Dec 30, 2007
Supervisors want to protect county from lawsuits without banning ride By MATT MILNER Courier staff writer OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Boad of Supervisors stopped short of banning RAGBRAI from local roads on Wednesday. They want the Iowa Legislature to protect counties. The call comes after one county banned the popular bike ride and others considered following suit. Events began after a man died during the 2004 running of the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The victim’s family sued Crawford County, accusing them of failing to keep their roads up to standards. The county settled for $350,000 without admitting any negligence. Crawford County then banned RAGBRAI from county roads. The Wapello County supervisors wanted to protect the county against lawsuits without banning the ride. Their resolution, passed 2-1, called for the Iowa Legislature to prevent future legal action against counties that allow RAGBRAI to use their roads. It also explicitly left the door open to taking steps locally if the state fails to act. That was a sticking point for Supervisor Steve Siegel. He argued the resolution threatened the Iowa Legislature. Siegel didn’t support that, though he backed the resolution’s intent. “I do agree and support the resolution just to get the Legislature to address the issue, because the Legislature and probably the [Des Moines] Register need to address their policies on how they run the process,” he said. Supervisor Jerry Parker said he doesn’t read the resolution as a threat. “I don’t think we’re threatening the Legislature. We’re telling them that if they don’t protect us, we’re going to have to protect ourselves. … I don’t think it’s a threat. I think we’re just informing them,” Parker said. Newly elected Supervisor Greg Kenning didn’t have a problem with the wording of the resolution. “If a county … does everything it can to make sure the road is safe, that should indemnify them,” he said. Siegel pointed to a section of Iowa law that appears to protect counties that construct and repair roads up to the required engineering standards. Wapello County does that, so the section already protects Wapello County, Siegel argued. Siegel said the concern for the Iowa State Association of Counties is that road repair standards are for motorized vehicles, not bicycles. Parker didn’t agree with Siegel’s objections. He said the last lines of the resolution are necessary to impress upon the Legislature that the county will take action if the state does not. “Otherwise why ask them to do anything? Please, fellas, protect us, but if you don’t, it's OK,” he said. Meanwhile, the supervisors approved the results of last week’s special election. That step, a formality, recognizes Kenning’s win. The board also took steps to prepare for next month’s special election for county attorney. They recognized Ron Kelly as the top assistant in the county attorney’s office. The step allows him to sign as interim county attorney on some documents. Formal recognition was needed because former county attorney Mark Tremmel did not designate a top assistant in the office. Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at

  • Source:
  • Author:
  • Posted By: