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County experiencing rural building boom

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WORTHINGTON -- With eight conditional use permits brought before the Nobles County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith said the county is "in the midst of a building boom."

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Smith's office oversees planning and zoning requests and the county's planning commission has met each of the past three weeks to discuss various projects. They will meet again next week to hear two more requests for livestock expansion projects, as well as a request for a rural Adrian business and an open manure storage facility.

"Building permits are 57 percent ahead of last year at this same time," Smith said during the board of commissioners meeting.

In 2009, the planning commission conducted 16 special hearings for conditional use and variance requests; and 23 special hearings were scheduled in both 2010 and 2011.

"We've had 22 special hearings so far this year and we meet again next week," Smith said. "In my 20 years here, that's never happened before.

"Al Langseth, our feedlot officer, keeps track of people putting up new feedlots and expanding, and he's lost count," Smith said, adding that more than 20 people have been in contact with Langseth.

"There's a lot of livestock activity. People have been putting things off for three years now and they finally feel comfortable (to start building)," Smith said.

Among the permits approved Tuesday, on recommendation from the county's planning commission, were a request from Mitchell Lynn, Lismore, to construct a 66- by 303-foot deep-pitted barn to house 600 head of cattle in the southwest corner of the southeast quarter of Section 9, Lismore Township; and from Sy Lonneman & Sons, Adrian, to construct an 80- by 124-foot total confinement barn to house 2,000 head of nursery pigs in the northeast quarter of Section 1, Grand Prairie Township.

Also approved by commissioners were requests from Brian Lindemann to expand an existing gravel pit in the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 24, Little Rock Township; Reker Construction to mine and excavate gravel in the southeast corner of the southeast quarter of Section 5, Olney Township, and in the southwest quarter of Section 35, Little Rock Township. Approval was also granted for Ann Mills to construct a new non-farm residence in the Ocheda Heights Addition, located in Section 10, Bigelow Township.

In other action, the board:

* Adopted a resolution of support for the community-based renewable energy development (C-BED) project known as Community Wind South. In addition, conditional use permits were approved for the construction of a switching station in the southeast quarter of Section 18, Summit Lake Township; and the operation of a 10-acre lay down yard in the south half of the southeast quarter of Section 23, Summit Lake Township. Commissioners Benson and Thier abstained from voting on all three measures because of their roles on the Community Wind South board.

* Received information from Nobles County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Ed Lenz and Smith regarding changes to the Ag BMP (Best Management Practices) loan program. The Ag BMP program loan funds are used primarily for upgrades to septic systems to bring them into compliance.

Smith said Nobles County now has three lending institutions authorized to loan money for the program. He suggested the county may want to loan money for Ag BMPs, at a rate of 3 percent interest for a 10-year loan, as the interest would be an added source of revenue for the environmental services office.

"People really like the opportunity of coming to the county and having the bill put on their taxes," said Smith. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity and I would pursue it if it's the will of the board."

Commissioners requested more time to consider the idea and requested Smith put the item on an agenda for a future board meeting.

* Announced the search for an interim county administrator continues and some candidates have been identified. The interview team will include one department head, Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder, and one elected official, Kent Wilkening, in addition to select commissioners.

* Approved a $450 per pay period increase to the deputy county administrator, retroactive to April 3, for increased duties assumed since the departure of the former county administrator. The pay increase will remain in effect until a new county administrator assumes the duties of the office.

* Approved a pay adjustment for an administrative secretary, retroactive to Jan. 1 and continuing until a secretary is hired to work in the public health office, because of additional work required.

* Appointed Schnieder deputy emergency management director, to serve under Sheriff Kent Wilkening, until a new emergency management director is hired.

* Approved the job duties and advertisement for a new, full-time emergency management director. The job will encompass all emergency management duties, as well as fulfill the role of safety officer. In addition, the person will serve on the public health preparedness team.

* Approved an agreement with Leota Township to provide snow removal on Nobles County 79, north of the cemetery. Leota Township utilizes the road during snow removal, and will be paid $1,050 per year to clear snow from it.

* Approved purchase of pea rock and installation under six swing sets in county-owned parks. The rock is required for the swings to be covered by insurance. The estimated $8,000 to $10,000 cost will be covered by reserves in the park board budget.

* Approved a request to spend up to $3,000 from reserves to purchase a boat lift for the Nobles County Sheriff's rescue boat to be kept on Lake Okabena. The department received offers from several individuals willing to allow the boat lift on their dock.

* Approved a request from Nobles County Librarian Julie Wellnitz to hire a secretary following the departure of an employee.

* Approved hiring a seasonal worker in the parks department. This position was funded by grants in each of the last two years, but the grant is no longer available.

* Authorized extension of a full-time temporary jailer position at the Prairie Justice Center.

* Approved the 2012 appropriation of $1,250 to the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council.

l Approved the second quarter 2012 appropriation of $7,589.25 to RSVP.

* Received a request from Leo Voss, Fulda, to not display the flags of other countries on the Nobles County Government Center property. The board took the request under advisement. This discussion stems from a request from the Worthington Chamber of Commerce to display the international flags on the side of the government center.

* Approved the appointments of Randall Janssen and Terri Janssen, both of Worthington, to fill vacancies on the Community Services Advisory Committee.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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