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County to seek advance in state money for roads

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a request from Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder seeking an advance in 2013 state aid funding to complete several projects in 2012. Schnieder said the advance is needed because they had advanced some of their 2012 allotment in 2011, leaving the fund short.

The projects he identified for work in 2012 include replacing a bridge on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 14 near Midway Park, completing an overlay on CSAH 14 from U.S. 59 to Brewster and doing work at the CSAH 10 and CSAH 35 intersection on the west side of Worthington.

"Money is a little tight right now and we have a longer and longer list of roadways that need our attention," Schnieder told the board.

Commissioner Diane Thier asked if the county was going to "run into trouble" in the future because it is again requesting to advance money.

"Ultimately we're going to take a break ... but at this time our needs exceed our money," Schnieder responded. He said he'd like to get through the next three to five years and then be at the point where they wouldn't need to request all of the advanced funding.

Schnieder acknowledged that the state does have concerns about counties that advance the money year after year.

"We're at a point here where we really do need to get some projects done," he added.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

* Approved a resolution for the sale of $10.9 million in series 2011 bonds for the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water Project. The bonds will be used to pay off the previous allocation of $10.9 million in bonds authorized for Nobles County. The action will allow LPRW to get a lower interest rate -- from 3.75 percent to 3 percent -- that will ultimately save the agency more than $2 million over the 38-year term of the bonds.

* Received a report from Vetter Johnson Architects regarding an assessment on county facilities, including the Nobles County Government Center and the Prairie Justice Center.

In the report were numerous suggestions for maintenance upgrades and energy-saving updates that could be completed on the two buildings.

The cost to complete all of the projects outlined in the report totaled more than $2.5 million -- at least $500,000 more than what another firm proposed for doing many of the same projects.

Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. voiced his concern about the higher costs outlined by the new report.

"Now we're at $2.5 million, and the other firm came back with $2 million," Demuth said. "There is no payback information for me to digest.

"I just feel we've lost nine months (the time between the first report and Tuesday's) and we've gained $500,000 (in expenses)," he added.

Part of the reason the new plan costs more is that it includes a proposal to renovate the six restroom facilities in the Government Center, and for window replacement in the building.

* Received a report on the clean-out of County Ditch 5 in Summit Lake Township. All but 1,240 feet was cleaned out, reported Schnieder, adding that there was an issue with a property owner who disputed the ditch was on his property. The property owner hired an attorney and contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the potential presence of Topeka Shiners in the stream and ditch system.

As a result of the property owner's actions, the USFWS is investigating the area and will make a determination on whether the remainder of the ditch can be cleaned. Schnieder said if they get approval yet this fall, he'd like to have the work completed right away. If not, the work will have to wait until next fall.

* Appointed Nancy Springman to the DAC board to fill the unexpired term of Julie Wratz.

* Tabled a decision on the city tax abatement request because a city-county-school meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Commissioners will take action on the request at their Dec. 8 board meeting.

* Approved an Emergency Management Performance Grant of $18,737.

* Authorized the hiring of a Children and Families Social Services Supervisor in the Family Services Agency following the resignation of Beth Mahoney.

* Authorized the hiring of a grounds keeper within the Nobles County Public Works office to fill a vacancy.

* Approved a master grant contract with the Minnesota Department of Health for the new Nobles County Community Services (formerly health and human services departments), effective Jan. 1.

* Learned the results of a speed study conducted on Nobles County 13 at Rushmore. The study, conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, showed that 55 miles per hour was a safe and reasonable speed, and therefore the speed zone did not need to be changed from its 55 mph posting.

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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