Commencing around 1886, the Proceedings for the Iowa County Board of Supervisors specifies the Iowa County Committee on Roads and Bridges presided over matters related to the highway system within the county.   The financial records and reports were approved by the board via oversight by the chairman and committee at the annual proceedings of 1887 and forward.   

From the June 1911 Proceedings for the Board of Supervisors; the County clerk’s records for the County of Iowa, Wisconsin; I excerpt the following passage related to the creation of a Highway Commission:

The hour for the special order consideration of the Good Roads proposition having arrived the following resolutions were presented by Mr. Whitman:

Whereas there is a law in the statute books providing for aid from the state for the building of roads,

And whereas this law containing several provisions requiring action by the county board :

Be it resolved by the County Board of Supervisors of Iowa County :

That a committee of three be selected by the chairman to select the system of prospective highways according to subsection 1 of section 1317m-3, of the Laws of Wisconsin, and that this committee be and is hereby empowered to select and adopt for this board such system after conferring with the chairman of each town and the committees of adjoining counties.   The county clerk is hereby directed to prepare a map showing such system and file copies with the State Highway Commission and with each town clerk as required by law.

That the percentage of costs of improvements on the system of prospective state highways to be paid by the county shall be the same as that paid by the town.

That a committee of three be appointed by the chairman with power to make and enter into arrangements in the name of the county to rent or purchase a road roller, stone crusher, bins and screen and other equipment as may be necessary for the proper and economical construction of roads by the county.

That this board requests the State Highway Commission to appoint some man to take charge of the county road work in this county for the year 1912, and that therefore no county highway commissioner be elected.

That this board requests the state highway commission to make surveys, plans, and specifications for the work to be done with state aid in 1912.

That the county clerk be and is hereby instructed to correspond with the State Highway Commission and with their advice devise a system for paying out the county, town, and state funds for highway construction.

That there is hereby created a county road and bridge fund for the purposes set forth in subsection 6, of section 1317-m5, of the statutes.

That a tax of $6600 be and is hereby levied upon all taxable property of the county to be collected in January, 1912, for the county road and bridge fund and that $2400 of this be used to meet the amounts petitioned for by the towns of Wyoming, Highland and Moscow and that the machinery committee be empowered to spend so much of the remainder as may be necessary to secure an adequate outfit of machinery, And be it further,

Resolved that if the amount provided for the purchase or rental of machinery prove inadequate, the committee be and is hereby adequate, the committee be and is hereby granted to borrow not to exceed $500 additional on the credit of the county for use in securing the necessary outfit of machinery.

Moved by Mr. Whitman and seconded by Mr. Horn that the resolutions be adopted.   On motion the question was made a special order for 9:30 o’clock tomorrow morning.   And with that, was lain the foundation for preservation and construction of roads and bridges within the county.

During the November 15, 1912 Annual Proceedings of the Iowa County Board of Supervisors held in the City of Dodgeville, Wisconsin; the evening session of the Board was called to order 7:00 o’clock p.m. by the chairman.   

The expenditures for the Road and Bridge committee were reviewed and approved by the Board.   A topic of agenda for the Board Meeting was the following resolution presented by Mr. Grimstad who moved for its’ adoption.

Resolved: That there be elected by this Board two members who shall together with the Chairman of this Board, be a committee on state highways to act in conjunction with the highway commissioner in behalf of the county in building of state roads and in buying any additional machinery that may be necessary not exceeding the amount of $4000.00.

Mr. Knight moved to amend by striking out that last part of the resolution providing for the election of two members of the county board and making the limit of the amount to be extended for machinery $1,000.00 instead of $4,000.00.   The amendment to the resolution was carried and the resolution as amended adopted.   

Mr. Whitman moved that the salary of the County Highway Commissioner be fixed at $600.00 per annum, his term of office to be for three years, that his bond be fixed at $1000.00, for the faithful performance of the duties of his office and that he have supervision in conjunction with the Chairman of the County Board over the building of highways that may be constructed under the provisions of Chapter 337, Laws of 1911, otherwise known as the State Highway Law.   

Mr. Richardson moved a suspension of the rules and the matter be taken up at once.   

Motion carried unanimously by call of the board.   

Mr. Whitman moved to proceed with the election of a Highway Commissioner,   Motion carried.   

Mr. Whitman moved that the clerk be instructed to cast the ballot of this board for Mr. John D. Bennett, of the Town of Mineral Point, for County Highway Commissioner.   Motion carried.   

The clerk cast the vote as instructed and Mr. John D. Bennett was duly declared elected, the first Highway Commissioner of Iowa County.   Over the years, the following individuals have performed duties in the position of Iowa County Highway Commissioner:

  • 1912-1913 J.D. Bennett
  • 1914-1918 J.W. Pearcey
  • 1919-1920 E.J. Perkins
  • 1921-1926 Charles L Wonn
  • 1927-1936 J.E. Wedlake
  • 1937-1938 Paul Graber
  • 1939-1947 J.R. McCutchin
  • 1948-1968 Paul Graber
  • 1969-1970 Merton W. Bennett
  • 1971-1982 W. Eldon Rule
  • 1983-1996 Glenn L. Thronsen
  • 1997-2008 Leo J. Klosterman
  • 2009 – present Craig E Hardy

The Highway Department under their leadership has met many challenges and controversy ranging from fiscal matters to weather incident response.   

Research of the Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors highlights some of these issues as follows: 

On November 16, 1916 the State Highway Commission provided written notice of the adoption of the county trunk line system proposed over the alternatives provided by the towns of the county to be effective on January 1, 1918 due to the sum of 1917 funds having been allocated already. 

The August meeting of 1923 adopted a special Resolution presented by Richland County in support of reconstruction of the Lone Rock bridge over the Wisconsin River.

A Resolution was passed in November of 1923 for the construction of a state highway between Mineral Point in Iowa County and Lancaster in Grant County.

The drought events of 1935 incorporated the usage of 31,000 CY of gravel on the highway system improvements.

In 1941 a Resolution was adopted to apply a maximum of 5 CY per location where all driveways intersect the county system to address soil tracking issues, during the same year 1941 the county placed 31,422 CY of gravel out of its’ crushing operations, and the 1954 Proceedings included Resolution #7 from the committee relative to an extension of a road from state route 23 to Cox Hollow Park (now known as Governor Dodge State Park) forward to the Conservation Committee and the State Highway Commission.   

In recent times, the Department has become more focused to maintenance issues such as the floods and landslides of the rain events and winter snowstorms in 2007 and 2008 come to mind.   

Also of importance worth mentioning is the Barneveld tornado of 1984, the snow events of 1927, 1929, and 1934; the Great Depression, the blizzard of 1979, floods of 1960’s, tearing down condemned properties along STH 14 in late 1990’s, to a myriad of other location specific newsworthy events both large and small.

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