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Nobles County considers implementing I.D. cards

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday tabled the adoption of a personnel policy that calls for all county employees to wear identification badges while on the job.

The proposed policy, developed as a result of the county's long-range plan of 2004, was hoped to create an "environment of safety and security" for county employees and the public. But some of the county departments have said wearing identification badges that contain both their first and last name could pose safety concerns.

Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore said his staff works with the public in instances where someone is ordered to appear for court and is not pleased to be there. Though employees may not feel threatened a "vast majority" of the time, Moore said there are instances where an individual will act or speak in a threatening manner.

"The display of (name) badges is a concern among staff," Moore said.

He asked that if a policy be adopted for the use of identification badges, his department be exempt -- or granted the discretion to not wear the badges in public view.

"We certainly can carry the badges, it's just the display (that is a concern)," Moore added.

County Administrator Mel Ruppert said the goal of the identification badges is to make the public aware of who the public servants are.

"Rather than put exceptions on these badges, I would ask you not to pass a policy that is difficult to enforce," Ruppert told commissioners.

The badges, in addition to serving as identification, could serve multiple purposes -- including doubling as an electronic key card and time card.

Ruppert said he had heard other departments also raise concern over the identification badges. The policy will be discussed further at the June 20 county board meeting.

In other action, the board:

- Denied authorization for replacement of the roof on the Adrian county shop. Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said the work was budgeted for this year because the roof is 39 years old and he doesn't know how much longer it will be before problems arise.

Commissioner Norm Gallagher was against replacement at this time because there have not been any issues with the roof.

"I hate to see us tear into a 39-year-old roof that doesn't leak," he said. "If it lasts five more years, that's five more years of savings. To have a sound roof torn out just because it's 39 years old doesn't make sense to me."

- Approved a conditional use permit for Gary Erwin, applicant for Leona Vogt, to operate a dog kennel in the west half of the northeast quarter of Section 6, Bigelow Township. Conditions set forth include that the barn be upgraded with wire over the windows to serve as a secondary containment; that all dogs be housed inside the barn at night; that no more than 12 dogs be on site after Sept. 1 and that an inspection take place at that time to ensure compliance; and that the permit be reviewed in May 2007 for possible addition of further conditions.

- Approved a price reduction in zoning fees for non-commercial wind energy towers from $10 per foot to $5 per foot. Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith said the zoning ordinance does not distinguish different fees between commercial turbines that generate electricity for power companies and turbines under 40 kilowatt, which are typically used to generate a single farm.

- Accepted the low bid of $166,710 from AAA Striping Service of Rogers to do pavement marking in Nobles, Rock and Jackson counties and the City of Worthington.

- Authorized final payment for the completion of two township bridges, one in Wesside Township and the second in Graham Lakes Township. Final payment of $7,021.45 will be made to Midwest Contracting, Marshall.

- Approved leasing a portion of the Adrian county shop lot for Xcel Energy to store some of its equipment while it erects new power poles in the area. The lease is for approximately $575 per month and would be for an estimated 12 months.

- Authorized an agreement with Larson, Allen, Weishair & Co. to provide audit services for the county for 2006.

- Approved the adoption of a catastrophic leave bank policy for the county's employees.

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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