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Council OKs new business

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council approved a new lease agreement with the Biotechnology Advancement Center (BAC) and Grazix Animal Health Inc., based in San Carlos, Calif., Tuesday during its regularly scheduled meeting.
Grazix manufactures a family of next-generation natural animal health products, which are developed to assist veterinary professionals to maintain healthy animal digestive balances in production environments. The company is relocating its sales and distribution operations to Worthington, where it will be managed by Randy Simonson, a Worthington resident and business owner. Grazix anticipates hiring three full-time employees immediately and ultimately 20 full-timers when the company reaches its sales goals. The lease agreement states that Grazix will use and occupy 480 square feet of office space within the BAC for $300 per month. The lease will have an initial term of one year and continue on a month-to-month basis thereafter. 
 “The three employees will be utilizing all of the 480 square feet, but they have the potential of growing out of that pretty quickly,” said Brad Chapulis, the city’s director of economic and community development.  The council also approved a Prairie Holdings Group plan to expand its retention pond. Prairie Holdings Group will now be adding five acres on to 15 acres already at the Bioscience Industrial Park. The property is bordered on the south by the north line of the Bio Science Industrial Park, and on the north by the primary sanitary sewer interceptor for the city. The city transferred the lots under the city’s land acquisition policy at an established square foot of nearly $.69, and the land value of the lots was assessed at $360,000. 
 Officials at Prairie Holdings Group, however, suggested the sale of the five acres to be at $.15 per square foot — or $32,670. City staff worked to negotiate a price of $.35 per square foot to accommodate a notable reduction in value. “The $.15 per square foot comes out to be $6,534 per acre, and the $.35 per square foot comes out to be $15,246 an acre,” said city council member Rod Sankey.  Council members ultimately decided to approve the sale of $0.20 an acre to Prairie Holdings Group. In other business: * Plans for professional services for projects at the Worthington Airport for the next five years were also approved during the meeting. The firm Bolton and Menk have completed plans and specifications for the Taxiway B project. 
Included in the project, which covers the entire length of Taxiway B, are replacement of pavement, re-sealing longitudinal joints and sealing any random cracks. The total estimated project cost is $141,050. Funding is proposed to be from a 90 percent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant; airport reserves for capital improvements would encompass the remaining 10 percent.
 * An amended budget of $28,000 for the May Street Pedestrian Crossing Project was approved. The project will bring the crosswalk on May Street, just east of Chautauqua Park, into compliance with American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The crosswalk is the only known crosswalk in the city that does not include pedestrian ramps; it was apparently overlooked in past efforts to install ramps at all crossings. “We shouldn’t have to have to shut down the whole road, but there may be some limited access,” said Dwayne Haffield, the city’s director of engineering. * The Worthington Public Arts Commission’s request for a project and location was approved. The commission had sought council approval of a design concept and location for a proposed mural that would depict the community and its celebrations during the May 12 council meeting, but no action was taken to allow staff to determine if the mural would be out of compliance with the city’s sign ordinance. After a series of failed locations, the commission was granted approval Tuesday to have the murals on the outside of east wall on the VFW, and to have one inside Memorial Auditorium. * Nobles County Attorney Kathy Kusz was present to update the council on the year-to-date prosecutions, leading to the conclusion that the office needs more staff. Mayor Alan Oberloh asked Kusz about the rumors that Nobles County is short of judges. “We have a couple things operating,” Kusz said. “We have recommended caseloads for attorneys and judges, the state comes up with a judge amount, and Nobles County is rated at a more-than-one-judge county. “We just have so many cases and only one sitting judge, so we have to go begging to areas with a less than one judge need to come help us.” * Recognized at the meeting was the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Administration, which was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award for the 2014 Task Force of the Year by the Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators. The Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force has made 621 arrests and executed 248 search warrants in the last five years. “We were lucky enough to win this award again — we won this award previously in 2009,” said Troy Appel, Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Commander. “In order to receive this award we had to be nominated, and there was one specific case that won us this award.” Specific to the nominated investigation, agents conducted hundreds of consent searches, nearly 50 search warrants and analyzed data from over 2 million mobile calls. They seized 5,133 grams of methamphetamines, 292 pounds of marijuana and quantities of cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, morphine, hydrocodone and other prescription medications. The case also included the seizure of 43 firearms, numerous vehicles and over $93,000 in cash. The Worthington Police Department has also been selected as an outstanding agency by the Minnesota Department of Traffic Safety. The police department has been awarded four ALCO-Sensor FST preliminary breath testing instruments that will assist officers in a timely assessment of impairment due to alcohol consumption. The Worthington Police Department is a partner with hundreds of departments across the state that strives Towards Zero Deaths by focusing traffic enforcement efforts. Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.
Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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