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NRCHS didn't ask for more space

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LUVERNE -- When Nobles County Commissioners accepted the $153,426 low bid for the Nobles County Government Center third floor remodeling project a week ago, several commissioners said the project was necessary due to a lack of space in the Nobles-Rock Community Health Services offices.

NRCHS administrator Brad Meyer wanted to set the record straight on Wednesday afternoon, when he met with the NRCHS board in Luverne.

"Public health did not ask for the room," explained Meyer. "We were approached by the Nobles County Administration saying that the commissioners were looking at remodeling and wanted me to work with him (Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert) on getting a floor plan done.

"I did not initiate it," he said. "I've gotten some questions, 'Well, if you're staff is shrinking, why did you need more space?' That is not the case. We were approached, and so we're working with them to get it done."

After distributing drawings to the NRCHS board of the proposed shift in office space for the agency, Meyer said they are actually going to reduce the number of cubicles during the move.

"Right now we have eight cubicles, but we have three empty spots so we're taking two cubicles off," said Meyer. "I don't see us growing anytime soon. We will still have one open area."

Meyer said he had not been told when the remodeling project will start, or how long agency employees would be impacted by the construction process.

In other action, the board:

l Learned that NRCHS has started a new tuberculosis investigation. Public Health Nurse Barb Navara was in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Wednesday to conduct a contact investigation with an individual suspected of having TB. This is the second investigation since the TB outbreak in Nobles County in 2008.

l Received an update on previous discussion regarding the need for a separate bedbug ordinance to aid in enforcement of cleaning up bedbug infestations.

Meyer said the public health nuisance ordinance already in place has been sufficient in getting landlords to clean up the three rental properties that were infested with bedbugs.

"Eventually, we may need to adopt an infestation ordinance," he added. "At this time, I think the public health nuisance ordinance is working just fine."

- Received a report from public health educator Paula Anderson regarding the efforts to address teen pregnancy in Nobles County. Anderson said she is currently working with the schools to establish a curriculum -- a project funded with a $5,000 grant received from the Minnesota Department of Education.

Anderson said the agency was recently notified of a second grant to help fund programming for teen pregnancy. The $5,000 will come from the Minnesota Department of Health and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

"Now we have national people that are going to come in and help us with training," she told board members.

The No Sex, Safe Sex Coalition formed in Nobles County has also applied for funding from the Worthington Healthcare Foundation, and anticipates a response to that request next week.

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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