Weather Forecast


Bigelow home declared public nuisance

Submitted Photo Cupboards filled with food and rodent feces were discovered in a home in Bigelow that has been declared as a public nuisance. The property owner has until Monday to clean up the house or NRCHS will hire to have it done.1 / 2
Submitted Photo Photos taken by NRCHS Sanitarian Jason Kloss show the unsanitary conditions inside this house in Bigelow. Every room in the house was littered with garbage, decaying food and rodent feces.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles-Rock Community Health Services is investigating a public health nuisance report in Bigelow.

Sanitarian Jason Kloss reported to the NRCHS board on Wednesday that he was notified of property at 2675 Canterbury that was abandoned. The home is owned by Warren Van Westen, who now has an address in Sibley, Iowa.

In his report, Kloss noted a strong odor of decaying material and observed food residue, garbage and debris accumulating in every room of the house. He also reported a significant amount of rodent feces on the cupboards and floor of the property.

"The question is when they lived there and did they live amongst it. I think that's a yes," Kloss said.

Kloss issued orders on June 3 to have the property cleaned within 10 days, and as of Wednesday, had not heard a response from the property owner.

If the nuisance has not been corrected prior to Monday, NRCHS will contract with a crew of jail inmates to clean up the property, and all costs associated with the cleanup will be collected from the property owner as a special tax assessment.

In other action, the board:

- Approved an environmental health licensing ordinance that encompasses previous ordinances for food, beverage and lodging, manufactured home parks, public non-community transient water systems and public pools. Kloss said the updates will not affect establishments, but will detail licensing, regulations, the appeals process and license fees. Public hearings on the ordinance will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the board room of the Nobles County Government Center, and at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Rock County Human Services building.

- Approved an update in the tobacco ordinance for Nobles and Rock counties. The changes include that no one younger than age 16 be allowed to sell tobacco products, and that no sample smoking be allowed in licensed retail tobacco establishments. A public hearing on the ordinance is slated for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the board room of the Nobles County Government Center, and at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Rock County Human Services building. The ordinance will then be sent to commissioners in each county for approval.

- Discussed plans to pursue requests for proposals for NRCHS to contract for human resources and group insurance for its agency. NRCHS Administrator Brad Meyer said he and Jon Ramlo, administrator for Rock-Nobles Community Corrections, met with Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert and learned the county will no longer provide the services for the agency as of Jan. 1, 2011, unless the county is paid for its services.

- Received an update from the staffing committee regarding the compensation package for the agency's administrator. The committee makes a recommendation to Sanford, but Sanford sets Meyer's salary.

"We felt he's doing a commendable job with his leadership of the agency," said board chair Karen Pfeifer.

- Learned that NRCHS is not meeting USDA requirements pertaining to the length of time it takes to meet with clients in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. High-risk clients must been seen within 10 calendar days, while low- to moderate-risk clients must meet with a WIC clinician within 20 days. More work is being done to improve the statistics.

- Was updated on immunization trends. Public Health Nurse Cindy Frederickson said reporting for the first six months of this year showed more adults than children seeking vaccine, and most of them are refugees who need to have updated vaccinations for their documentation.

- Learned that a second blood lead case has surfaced in Nobles County. An inspection will be done of the residence today to determine the cause. The case that was reported last month was traced back to paint in the home.

- Approved a delegation agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health that states NRCHS will continue to inspect wells and license establishments in Nobles and Rock counties for safe drinking water.

- Received an update on recruitment of volunteers for the Medical Reserve Corps. Kloss reported that more volunteers are needed.

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

(507) 376-7330