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Nobles County tables 4-H summer intern post

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WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday tabled a request to hire a summer intern for the county's 4-H program, due in part to the expected shortfall in state aid funds.

The summer intern typically works about 400 hours, from June 8 through Aug. 21, assisting with everything from day camps to the county fair, providing clerical support and helping with pre-fair judging events.

"That extra person during fair is critical," said Worthington Regional Extension director Holli Arp. "It's more (work) than just one person, JoAnn (Amman), can handle during the summer."

County Administrator Mel Ruppert urged commissioners to delay a decision until the county learns more about the state's budget deficit.

"I would caution the board that under the labor contracts it indicates that before layoffs could take place in any area, we would first have to lay off any seasonal or temporary employees," Ruppert said.

Department heads have been working on targeting specific areas in the county where cuts can be made, and out of that discussion came the idea to not hire any summer help or seasonal help this year, he added.

Arp said not having a summer intern would force the Extension program to make changes.

"It really does come down to a reduction in service," she said. "(The summer intern is) a huge asset to the office. In most cases we get more than we could ever pay for."

Commissioner Marv Zylstra asked Arp if staff could be pulled from other areas instead.

"We have the luxury of the regional office right across the street from the fairgrounds," said Zylstra. "Couldn't we utilize one of the regional staff during the fair?"

Arp said the regional office, which supports eight counties, would have to provide the same services to all of the counties if Nobles County received extra help.

Other ideas mentioned ranged from asking more volunteers to help with summer programming, setting up a job share program or having county 4-H program coordinators help other counties out during fair time in exchange for help during the Nobles County Fair.

"Where are ways that we can work more together instead of counties working within their own little boundary?" asked Zylstra.

Arp said she would look into some of the suggestions.

"I see job share as a very different option than not hiring at all," she said. "If there are ways we can get other staff people to help out, that's a very different scenario in my mind."

"I just don't think we can hire anything new right now," said Commissioner Diane Thier. "I don't think we should. We need to set an example for other departments."

In other action, the board:

l Adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of $8.5 million in general obligation water system bonds for Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water to complete an expansion project in Nobles County. Commissioners also approved a credit enhancement program and the credit enhancement agreement.

The expansion project will include construction of water lines and a 1-million-gallon water tower near Rushmore. A $4 million grant was received for the project, with the remainder to be financed through loans.

- Approved a $3,500 annual appropriation to the Manna Food Pantry, and a $7,135 first quarter appropriation to RSVP. Ruppert said due to budget concerns, other first quarter appropriations are on hold. Letters were sent to those agencies, including the Nobles County Historical Society, Nobles County Fair Association, Civil Air Patrol, Southwest Initiative, Southwest Minnesota Workforce Council, Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council, Travel Southwest, and the Nobles County Art Center.

- Approved a legal service agreement renewal with Joel Wiltrout of the Ahlquist and Wiltrout law firm for legal assistance in the county attorney's office. County Attorney Gordon Moore said the 1-year contract would go from March 1 through Feb. 28, 2010, and is set at the same fee as the existing contract.

- Received an update on road projects that may be funded with the federal economic stimulus package, as well as an update on some of the upcoming bridge projects, by public works director Stephen Schnieder.

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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