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County to seek land options for new library

WORTHINGTON -- Responses from the city of Worthington and Plum Creek Library System (PLCS) were presented to Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday after board members sought feedback on a potential collaboration that it is ready to move forward with plans for a new library.

Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert sent letters to the city of Worthington, District 518 and PLCS last month, after the county received a report from Vetter-Johnson Architects stating that there wasn't enough land at the existing library site to complete an expansion project.

PLCS stated in its reply that it remains interested in working with the county, while the city of Worthington is still offering the former Campbell's Soup site as a potential for partnering with the city's plans to build a fire hall and meeting space.

Several commissioners expressed continued concern with the Campbell's Soup site and locating the library adjacent to a fire hall and railroad.

"Location-wise, I think we can find something better than that property," said Commissioner Gene Foth, adding that he didn't like the idea of people reading books and hearing ambulance sirens or train whistles.

Commissioner Marv Zylstra expressed concerns with being landlocked on the property, as it offers no space for potential expansion.

"If we're going to build a new library, let's get three or four acres and envision down the road," he said.

Commissioners adopted site analysis criteria on Tuesday, which will be used to determine a feasible location for the new library.

In other action, the board:

- Approved a conditional use permit for John Penning of Wilmont to construct a 50-foot by 184-foot roof over an existing feedlot in the southwest quarter of Section 4, Summit Lake Township.

- Received a report on county program aid. The state has certified its aid to counties, and Nobles County is slated to receive $801,960, which is a drop of more than $208,000 from what was anticipated.

- Learned that Nobles County will receive a $173,722 dividend from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) for 2010. On the flip side, the county was also notified by Blue Cross/Blue Shield that 2009 was not a good year and the county was at 120 percent in claims. This will impact the county's rating within the next 24 to 26 months.

- Approved the purchase of software from DT Ventures that will allow county employees to access their pay stubs via the Internet. The decision is hoped to save the county time and money in printing pay stubs and delivery. There will be a one-time $2,000 implementation fee for the program, as well as license and maintenance fees of $175 per month. An additional $25 per month will be charged if the county wants the company to host the information on its system.

County Administrator Mel Ruppert estimated the county spends $1,000 per year just in employee time to fold the pay stubs, stuff them in envelopes and distribute them to departments each pay day.

- Approved the implementation of the E-TimeCards software program from RTVision at an initial cost of $15,520 and annual costs of $1,790. The web-based system will simplify the timekeeping and payroll processes, and will take approximately six months to implement.

- Learned that Rock County will provide the accounting, banking and human resources services for Rock-Nobles Community Corrections. The decision was made after the agency was asked to get a request for proposals for the services. The change will take effect Jan. 1, and employees will be moved onto the Rock County payroll.

- Approved a conditional use permit for Steve Hohensee of Worthington to operate a vintage snowmobile and motorcycle parts/salvage business in the south half of the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 12, Bigelow Township. This is the former Bill Smith machine shop. Conditions set on the permit include that there be no more than 250 snowmobiles stored outside the building, that fluids be properly disposed of and that there be no burning of materials on-site.

- Approved a conditional use permit for Murphy-Bents Joint Venture of Worthington to operate a gravel pit and crusher in the south half of the northwest quarter and the north half of the southwest quarter of Section 34, Dewald Township. Conditions are that the permit be good for six years with review in three years, that noxious weeds and dust control measures be implemented, and that a DNR water appropriations permit be obtained if necessary.

- Approved a conditional use permit for Worthington Excavating to operate a gravel pit in the southwest quarter of Section 25, Ransom Township, with conditions the permit be good for six years with review in three years, that noxious weeds and dust control measures be implemented, and that a DNR water appropriations permit be obtained if necessary.

- Approved a request by Sheriff Kent Wilkening to fill a vacant jailer position at the Prairie Justice Center.

- Approved several contracts in the Nobles County Human Services department, including a contract addendum with UCare Minnesota for mental health targeted case management services; the Minnesota Family Investment Program divisionary work program contract addendum; the Department of Human Services memorandum of understanding for electronic verification of vital events; and a new contract with Adrian Country Living for customized living services to eligible recipients.

- Received an annual report from Garrett Backes of the Southwest Initiative Foundation. The foundation receives financial support from the counties it serves, and is requesting $5,000 from Nobles County this year.

- Approved the closure of Nobles County State Aid Highway 69 within the city of Wilmont on the morning of Aug. 14 for the community's commemoration of the Aug. 13, 1960 crash that killed nine people.

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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