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Hope Haven to take over operation of The Achievement Center

WORTHINGTON -- In a special evening meeting of the Nobles County Board, commissioners on Tuesday welcomed representatives of Hope Haven to the community. The Rock Valley, Iowa-based agency will take over operation of The Achievement Center beginning Jan. 1.

Hope Haven specializes in providing programs for both children and adults with disabilities. Executive Director David VanNingen, along with Larry Boeve, director of employment services, introduced themselves to commissioners Tuesday night and spoke of the more than two year process that brought Hope Haven to Worthington.

VanNingen said when Hope Haven was first approached a couple of years ago about taking over TAC, he said it was too much of a financial risk. A year ago, he was contacted again and, after meeting with Nobles County Human Services director Mary Fischer and staff, decided to look into the opportunity again.

"We began to look then at the programs we could offer in your community," VanNingen said.

Hope Haven has since worked with Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) office and received permission to proceed as a provider of services for this area.

"We're excited about this -- excited about the Worthington community," VanNingen said. "We can be a good partner with you in regard to the people served at TAC.

"Our goal is (that clients) don't notice much more than a little bump in the road," he added.

The county's contract with Mankato Rehabilitation Center (MRCI), which currently operates TAC, will expire Dec. 31. MRCI has agreed to work with Hope Haven during 2010 to ease the transition.

Hope Haven has been in operation for 45 years, and has offered programs in Minnesota for the past decade.

Commissioners approved the contract between Nobles County Family Services and Hope Haven, effective Jan. 1.

In other action, the board:

- Conducted its 2010 budget hearing, recapping the process the board and department heads went through prior to setting a $22,398,714 budget for 2010. The budget signifies a 12.5 percent decrease from the 2009 budget.

The county will collect $9,568,807 in property taxes in 2010, up 1.7 percent from the $9.5 million collected in 2009.

Commissioners will set the 2010 levy and budget at their next meeting, slated for 9 a.m. Dec. 22.

- Approved a conditional use permit for enXco to construct a switching station and maintenance facility in the south half of the southeast quarter of Section 23, Summit Lake Township. This is one of two sites permitted for enXco. The company will decide at a later date on the location they will build on.

- Approved a resolution adopting an updated Nobles County Solid Waste Plan.

- Approved contracts between Nobles County Family Services and Hope Haven/TAC and the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging.

- Appointed Chad Harms as the Nobles County Safety Officer.

- Learned that Nobles County was named the 2009 Most Improved County in the property and casualty division by the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust. The county will be presented an award during the Association of Minnesota Counties awards banquet on Monday.

- Accepted a $121,359 dividend from the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust. The dividend was for workman's comp and property casualty insurance.

- Approved a memorandum of understanding in the AFSCME union contract to allow the Nobles County Public Works department to cross-train a maintenance worker to assist in the engineering department on an as-needed basis.

- Approved a resolution related to a fund set aside for post-closure care of the Nobles County landfill. Since ownership has changed in the company operating the landfill and a $1.2 million surety bond is being provided to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the county will be reimbursed its $275,000 commitment.

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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