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County hears request to create book program

WORTHINGTON -- When Bob and Phyllis Pederson recently visited their grandson, they were amazed at the 2-year-old's book collection and the knowledge he'd gained from having the books read to him.

At Tuesday's meeting of the Nobles County Board, the Pedersons explained the program that put the books in their grandson's hands and asked for support to establish one locally.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a book-of-the-month club of sorts for children from birth to age 5. By December 2005, the program had enrolled 215,000 children, with more than 1.9 million books mailed to recipients in the one-year period.

Nearly a dozen Minnesota communities, counties and school districts support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The Pedersons want to add Worthington to the list.

"Reading is a wise investment in their future and the future of our community," Phyllis Pederson said.

The hardcover books address self-esteem, confidence, diversity and art and introduce children to diversity and school preparation.

The program costs $30 per child per year, amounting to $150 for one child for all five years of books. The Pedersons suggested the program be available to all children living within the 56187 zip code -- 880 children in all.

In the first year, they suggested starting with 20 percent of the 880 children, enrolling 176 in the program. Each subsequent year, another 20 percent of the children would be entered in the program until year five, when 100 percent of children from birth to age 5 will be enrolled.

The Pedersons said matching grants are available, and all contributions made toward the program are tax deductible. Donations will be accepted through the local 501 (c) 3 entity, which is the Manna Food Pantry Inc., and donations should be earmarked for "Dolly Library" use.

"I would like to see it not just for 56187, but countywide," Commissioner Diane Thier said of the program. She suggested the Pedersons contact the county library to see if they can work together to get the program started.

In other action, the board:

- Approved a conditional use permit for Randy Landhuis of Leota, on behalf of Clarice Landhuis, landowner, for the final plat of a 4.37-acre tract within the community of Leota to be developed into seven lots. The land is located in the north half of the northwest quarter of Section 8, Leota Township.

- Approved a conditional use permit for Son-D-Farm, Rushmore, to install three above-ground, 12,000-gallon fuel tanks in the southwest quarter of Section 30, Olney Township.

- Awarded R&G Construction, Marshall, the bid to replace a township bridge in both Hersey and Dewald townships. R&G submitted the low bid at $258,399.50.

- Approved on a 3-2 vote participation in the MCIT Drug and Alcohol Testing Program. Commissioners voiced concern over the cost of the tests and urged Sue Luing of the county human resources department to seek an alternative testing site.

With the new fee increase, the county must pay $39 for a drug test and $32.50 for an alcohol test. These rates are twice the national average, according to Commissioner Norm Gallagher.

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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