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Grant is sought for burn barrel reduction campaign

WORTHINGTON -- On a 3-2 vote, Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday approved support for a grant application seeking $30,000 from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to join in the 2007 Burn Barrel Reduction Campaign.

The grant is being applied for by the 12-county Southwest Regional Solid Waste Commission and would require a $3,000 in-kind match from Nobles County for education programming.

Mark Koster, an environmental services officer with Nobles County, said the grant money will be used to educate the public and attempt to change public perception on the use of burn barrels, commonly used by rural residents and those who reside in unincorporated communities.

"We're just looking at educating the public, we're not looking at enforcing," Koster said.

The grant application drew criticism from commissioners Diane Thier and Marv Zylstra, who cast votes opposing submission of the application.

"If we support this, aren't we saying to the MPCA that we'll allow this?" questioned Thier. "I think we could send the statement, 'No, we don't want your money -- we don't want to do this.'"

Board chair Marv Zylstra said he didn't like the wording for the resolution: "Whereas, the County of Nobles is committed to implementing the proposed project submitted by the Southwest Regional Solid Waste Commission Joint Powers Board ..."

"I think nine out of 10 (county residents) wouldn't support a burn barrel ban," Zylstra said.

Commissioner Vern Leistico said with three-fourths of the county's residents living within a city where burn barrels are already prohibited, he disagreed with Zylstra.

"I think the majority would support it," Leistico said. He, along with commissioners Norm Gallagher and David Benson voted to move forward with the grant application.

Koster said the grant application will be submitted in early December. The SRSWC should hear in February if they will receive funding.

In other action, the board:

- Approved the purchase of $44,097 in office equipment from Davis Typewriter of Worthington to replace office furniture in the auditor's, recorder's, assessor's, veterans service and emergency management offices. This is the final phase of replacement of office furniture in county offices.

- Approved snow removal contract agreements with Dan Wagner Construction for the county-owned downtown sidewalks; Lawns Plus for the Prairie Justice Center sidewalks; Nienkerk Construction for the county-owned downtown parking lots; and Mike's Mini Excavating for the Prairie Justice Center parking lot.

- Accepted an $8,903 influenza pandemic grant for Nobles-Rock Emergency Management, in conjunction with Nobles-Rock Public Health, to purchase protection equipment and supplies to sustain the emergency operations center during a pandemic-type activation.

- Accepted the Nobles County annual feedlot report. County feedlot officer Alan Langseth said the number of feedlots increased from 526 to 546 during the past year, with the increase attributed to new feedlot development and changes in the rules regarding feedlots located in proximity to shoreland.

In reality, Langseth said there are closer to 600 feedlots in the county, although some aren't classified as a feedlot because they either contain less than 10 animal units or they utilize a pasture in which vegetative cover is maintained through rotational grazing.

- Approved a resolution of support for classification of property within Worthington's city limits to be designated as a bioscience zone. Parcels included are the Nutri-Pro Feeds location, Prairie Ventures, Swift & Co., New Vision Co-op, Ridley Block and Intervet.

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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