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Nobles SWCD obtains grants, implements projects

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WORTHINGTON — With more than $1.1 million in Clean Water Legacy funds coming into Nobles County over the past three years, combined with cost-share contributions from landowners of roughly $300,000, the Nobles Soil and Water Conservation District continues to keep busy assisting producers in improving feedlots and implementing conservation projects.

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During an annual report to Nobles County commissioners Tuesday, SWCD Manager Ed Lenz and board member Paul Langseth spoke of the success in getting projects completed in 2013.

The lengthy list includes the construction of 25 terrace and sediment basins and 11 grassed waterways and critical area plantings, five feedlot improvement projects, feedlot inventories and streambank stabilization, erosion control and lakeshore stabilization projects. In addition, 17 AgBMP (Best Management Practices) loans were issued in Nobles County in 2013, totaling nearly $291,000. Those funds were used by landowners and operators to purchase reduced tillage and manure handling equipment, septic systems and feedlot improvement projects.

Nobles County ranks sixth in the state in the amount of AgBMP loans issued, with $5.6 million issued thus far.

Lenz told the board that roughly 85 percent of the SWCD’s budget is funded through grant dollars. The Worthington office has a full-time watershed coordinator whose position is 100 percent funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and a farm bill technician whose position is funded 90 percent by a grant.

“We’ve been successful the last several years to get grants,” Lenz said.

Both Lenz and Langseth commended county staff in environmental services and public works for working with the SWCD on certain projects.

Also during Tuesday’s Nobles County board meeting, commissioners:

  • Received a report from Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer Beth Van Hove on the wind energy tax revenue for 2014. The county receives 80 percent of the wind energy production tax revenue, amounting to $832,980, while Larkin, Worthington, Ransom, Wilmont, Summit Lake, Olney and Dewald townships will share in $208,245 in revenue.
  • Approved a lender agreement for the Nobles Soil and Water Conservation District to access $500,000 from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for operation of the AgBMP (Best Management Practices) loan program. The funds are available at a 3 percent loan rate for farmers and operators.
  • Discussed redetermining benefits for ditch systems as the county moves toward ditch system viewing. Commissioners had a work session on Monday with Jackson County staff to discuss ditch viewers, attorney selection and engineering. Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson will compile a request for proposals and it will be on the agenda for the May 6 County Board meeting.
  • Approved a request from Jerry Vyskocil, the county’s financial director, to contract for services with Open Gov, a web-based financial reporting platform that offers custom charts and graphs. The information will be linked to the county’s website and improve public access to county budget information. The service will cost $3,900 per year, and the county’s professional services fund will cover the cost.
  • Approved a request from Lynn Wilson, county recorder, to spend nearly $32,000 from the Recorder’s Equipment Fund for a company to complete tract index preservation and indexing. Wilson said once the books are scanned into the computer system, it would preserve the books and make the information available to the public to view online. There will be ongoing costs of $800 per year for maintenance on the records system. This is the next step as the county moves toward e-recording.
  • Awarded the bid to Traffic Marking Services, Maple Lake, for pavement marking work in Nobles, Rock, Jackson and Cottonwood counties and the city of Worthington. Traffic Marking Services provided the lowest of three bids, at $200,316.50.
  • Approved the purchase of a used skid loader for Nobles County Environmental Services. The 1997 Clark model is available for $7,000 and will be used for moving large quantities of chemicals collected at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, as well as for other projects as needed. The money for the skid loader will come from the Environmental Services reserve fund, which consists of money collected from fees.
  • Presented a certificate of appreciation to Chris Heinrichs, who is retiring from the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office on April 30. Heinrichs worked for the department for more than a decade, and had previously worked as a city police officer.
  • Congratulated the fiscal staff within Nobles County Community Services for receiving a letter of commendation from the Minnesota Department of Human Services for timely reporting. The letter stated that all reports were submitted on or before deadline, including 32 major reports, which required planning and teamwork on behalf of employees.
  • Appointed Bob Wieme as the delegate and Mike Woll as the alternate to the Regional Trail Plan steering committee of the Southwest Regional Development Commission.
  • Approved office space in the Nobles County Extension Office in the lower level of the Government Center for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regional educator position. A three-year memorandum of understanding signed in 2012 with the University of Minnesota stated that the county would provide the office space for Extension programming.
  • Received information from Paula Bloemendaal, Southwest Health and Human Services Tobacco Educator, regarding e-cigarettes as the county continues to work on writing a tobacco ordinance.

Bloemendaal said the ordinance is geared to licensing establishments who sell e-cigarette products. Legislation currently in Minnesota House and Senate committees seeks to have e-cigarettes treated the same as any other tobacco product under the state’s Freedom to Breathe Act.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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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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