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Commissioners approve funds for Buffalo Ridge rail

WORTHINGTON -- During a joint videoconference Tuesday morning, Nobles and Rock county commissioners approved spending $15,000 of Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority reserves to help improve the short-line railroad that operates between the two counties.

The funds, to be paired with a $15,000 contribution from the shipper's association -- money that will also be taken from the rail authority's reserves -- will pay for needed improvements on two bridges along the rail line. Nobles and Rock counties will split the $15,000 price tag at $7,500 each, offering it to BRRRA in the form of a zero-percent interest, pro-rated loan over five years.

The Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority was established in the 1980s after grain shippers in the two counties asked to get the short-line rail operational once again. At that time, the counties spent about $275,000 to purchase the rail and make the necessary improvements to run train traffic. The short-line rail serves as a link between two major rails -- the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern -- Nobles County Commissioner Chair Marv Zylstra said.

At its most active point, the Buffalo Ridge Rail ran about 3,000 cars annually, although usage has dropped off as more grain elevators are opting to ship product via truck. Today, most of the rail cars are hauling product for MSL and the Agri-Energy ethanol plant, both of Luverne.

In other action, the board:

- Approved the new Nobles County land use ordinance. The ordinance will take effect once the proper documentation has been filed with the recorder's office. The ordinance is available for viewing on the county's Web site, www.

- Approved a conditional use permit for New Fashion Pork, Jackson, to construct a 152- by 164-foot total confinement barn to house 3,000 head of finishing pigs in the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 24, Little Rock Township.

- Responded to a request for information from Mark Bartosh on the county's policy guidelines for filling a vacancy on the Heron Lake Watershed Board. Bartosh had submitted a letter of interest for a position on the board, but was never contacted to provide additional information or to meet with board members.

- Approved the right-of-way reconveyance of Nobles County 10 of the westerly 35 feet of the Worthington Country Club property from the county to the club.

- Approved an on-sale beer license and set-up permit for Prairie View Golf Links.

- Approved the first quarter appropriation to Nobles County Art Center.

- Approved the purchase of a 2006 Dodge Stratus on the state contract for $12,637. The vehicle will be used by county staff, and is in addition to its existing car-pool vehicles.

- Appointed Russ Crawford, representing the Adrian, Wilmont and Ellsworth elevators, to the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority.

- Heard a report on the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust from David Morrissey.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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