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County pursues TAC ownership

WORTHINGTON -- With time running out for The Achievement Center (TAC) in Worthington, Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday decided to pursue a possible takeover of the program.

TAC's contract with MRCI expires on Feb. 28, 2009, and despite the Nobles County Developmental Achievement Center's proposal to manage the program, its application has not been accepted by the Minnesota Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS), according to Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert.

"The facility will be closed Feb. 28 if a solution is not found," Ruppert told commissioners. "Based on the need for continued operation and services that the sheltered workshop offers ... should the county be stepping in and being the applicant for the federal and state funding? There are minimal options right now to move forward with continued operation of the facility."

TAC serves approximately 127 clients, one-third of which are residents of Nobles County. The remaining two-thirds are residents of other Minnesota counties, Ruppert said.

Commissioner Diane Thier asked if the state and federal grant dollars would create a break-even for Nobles County, if it chose to operate the program.

Ruppert replied that there is a set daily rate, with monies coming from the federal and state levels, as well as from county tax dollars. He said an increase in the daily rate is necessary.

"We're going to pretty much break even," said Commissioner Marv Zylstra. "It's a service we're providing. We need to have that facility."

If the county does not take over the program, and it appears no one else is interested, TAC's clients would need to placed with another program outside of the county -- at a cost to the county.

Ruppert and Nobles County Family Services Director Mary Fischer were directed to move forward with a proposal to submit to DRS.

In other action, the board:

  • Accepted a bid of $12,500 from Midwestern Mechanical of Sioux Falls, S.D., to repair the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the War Memorial Building (Nobles County Library/Art Center/Historical Society). The work will include new control valves and replacement of 12 steam traps inside the building.
  • Discussed a request from the City of Worthington to purchase the county's share of two lots in the Bioscience Park for construction of a motel and community events center.

    Commissioner Vern Leistico suggested the county look into a possible trade with the city -- exchanging ownership of the two lots for ownership of a city-owned parking lot that is being leased to the county for Government Center employee parking.

  • Accepted a proposal from George Lawson of Ames, Iowa, to conduct a needs assessment on the Nobles County Library for a fee of $9,495. During his presentation to the board, Lawson said he wants to have a series of community forums to speak with library customers and residents about what they want to see in their local library. He will also work with the library director and staff on a list of functions that need to be addressed.
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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