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County may face possible litigation

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WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners spent more than a half-hour in closed session Tuesday morning to discuss an anticipated claim against the county by Mid-State Reclamation & Trucking related to the Oct. 19, 2010, bridge collapse on County State Aid Highway 1, south of Brewster.

County Attorney Gordon Moore and public works director Stephen Schnieder met with board members behind closed doors, citing attorney-client privilege. When they returned to the board room, Moore reported that potential litigation was discussed.

Mid-State had previously requested the county pay approximately $52,000 to repair damage to the company's milling machine and the costs of retrieving it from the creek. The county refused to pay the claim, according to Moore, suggesting the contractor was responsible for damage to the bridge and associated costs to the county as a result.

When the county refused to pay the tab, Mid-State turned the claim into its insurance company, which is now coming back to the county with the claim.

Following the closed session, commissioners voted unanimously to spend up to $10,000 to retain the services of St. Cloud law firm Quinlivan & Hughes to "investigate the county's legal position."

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a request for a 2012 State Aid funding advance. Schnieder said the county will request a maximum of $2.030,000 to complete the following projects in 2011: replacement of the bridge on County State Aid Highway 1 south of Brewster and the bridge on CSAH 14 west of Brewster; and two road overlay projects on CSAH 13 and CSAH 9.
  • Adopted the county's All Hazard Mitigation Plan. FEMA has already approved the plan, and the next step is for cities to adopt it.
  • Authorized the advertisement for the hiring of a new three-fifth's time emergency management director, and appointed County Administrator Mel Ruppert as the interim emergency management director.
  • Approved a $2,500 dues payment to the Rural Minnesota Energy Board for 2011 dues.
  • Received the annual report of tax delinquency from Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Balster and learned that the amount of delinquent taxes collected in Nobles County declined in 2010.
  • Approved various financial institutions as county depositories for 2011, and approved petty cash and change funds for the year.
  • Received a report from Brenda Pausch, Drug Court manager for the Fifth Judicial District, regarding the potential to form a Drug Court in the five counties of far southwest Minnesota. Pausch explained the benefits of Drug Court, which features a collaboration of the court system and the drug treatment system in an effort to reduce recidivism.
  • Received an update on the 4-H program in Nobles County, and was introduced to the new Nobles County 4-H program coordinator, Kendra Van Beusekom, and regional Extension educator Deb Hadley. Van Beusekom is a native of Delano, and majored in biology and child psychology at the University of Minnesota.
  • Approved a pay equity implementation report, which will be submitted to the Minnesota Management and Budget department.
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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