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Mr. Answer Person tries to clear some of the mess on his desk

Posted: Tue, Dec 10, 2013 4:52 PM

(Mr. Answer Person seems to have been falling down on the job lately, but he is making an effort to answer reader questions)

Bob e-mails: "Who is responsible for monitoring the blasting in the rock quarries  around Decorah?"

Mr. Answer Person says: The explosives industry is one of the most-regulated industries in the country, which, I'm sure, you'll agree is a good thing.  Nut you might be surprised to learn all of the agencies that have a hand in those regulations.

First of all, the U.S. Bureau of Mines sets standards for how explosives are handled.  Then the State of Iowa Fire Marshal's Office is involved in several ways.  State officials will visit explosives companies and do on-site inspections, paying special attention to the storage of explosives.

But the people who handle setting off explosives also are supervised.  In fact, getting a license even involves getting fingerprinted.

Finally, almost all explosives companies do their own regulations--just to make sure they're protected from complaints.  It's typical that companies keep a log of every explosive blast set off, including seismic monitoring of the blast's impact.

So, to summarize, there are a lot of precautions and safeguards in place any time an explosion is set off.

Jim e-mails: "If you want to contact a county supervisor, just go to the county website and their contact information is all listed there.  So why don't two of the Decorah City Council members have their phone numbers listed on the city website?"

Mr. Answer Person says: "There's nothing sinister going on here.  Notes City Administrator Chad Bird, "We just have not put them up yet."

If you're following, you know there has been a lot of turnover in city council members recently.  In fact, 1st Ward city council member Jarrad Walter--one of the two city council members for whom there was no phone number listed--has completed his term on the city council since he was appointed "until the next election."

City Hall promises to get new pictures and information on the city website in December.  There will be a lot to update, with Randy Schissel switching to the 1st Ward, Bill Wagner and Charles Lore winning election in the 4th and 5th Wards, respectively, and at-large city council member Rachel Vagts resigning, with a replacement likely to be named soon.

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