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Road repairs to keep MN 60 detour rerouted until May

WORTHINGTON -- What had been the primary detour route for Minnesota 60 will likely remain open to local traffic only through mid-to-late May as the Minnesota Department of Transportation fixes portions of County State Aid Highways 4 and 5 that have deteriorated under the weight of heavy traffic in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, traffic is being rerouted at Bigelow, taking drivers west and north through Rushmore before accessing Interstate 90.

Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder, during his report to county commissioners Tuesday morning, said MnDOT anticipates the CSAH 4 and CSAH 5 repairs taking 30 to 60 days to complete. Once finished, the detour would be moved back to CSAH 4 and 5 and remain there through the remainder of this year's Minnesota 60 expansion project.

Schnieder said the county anticipates getting money from MnDOT after the detour has ended. The initial intent was to use the money, in combination with other state transportation dollars, to rebuild CSAH 4 in 2014 or 2016. Now, he's not sure the county will be able to do the work.

"It's everything we can do just to keep our paved roads in drivable condition," Schnieder said. "If we don't get new funding, there's no way we're going to be able to go in and rebuild these roadways."

In action taken Tuesday, the board:

* Tabled a request from Sheriff Kent Wilkening to discuss restructuring the emergency management department. Board chair David Benson announced Tuesday afternoon that a work session to further discuss the issue will be 12:30 p.m. March 27.

* Conducted an hour-long closed session to discuss County Administrator Mel Ruppert's performance evaluation.

Following the closed session, it was announced the proceedings were taped and would be kept on file. The county's outside counsel, Jessica Schwie, was present for the closed session.

* Discussed concerns in the child support social worker vacancies in the Nobles County Community Services agency.

There is one vacancy now and another potential vacancy anticipated. Attempts will be made to contract for service with either Cottonwood-Jackson Human Services or Southwest Health and Human Services. If a contract can't be established, plans would then include recruiting for an additional social worker for the agency.

* Conducted a closed session to discuss a labor contract with the new AFSCME union representing the county's registered nurses and public health nurses. The closed session was to talk union negotiation strategies not just for the AFSCME unit, but for other units with which the county is negotiating.

* Approved a request from Nobles County Veterans Service Officer Bill Brockberg to collect a paycheck while assisting with reintegration efforts for Minnesota National Guard soldiers returning from Afghanistan this spring.

Brockberg will spend nine days at Camp Shelby, Miss., and said he could be working with Nobles County soldiers during that time. He would also be available via cell phone in the event someone requires assistance in the county while he's gone. Brockberg did not yet know the dates he would be out of the office.

* Discussed reconstruction of County State Aid Highway 39 in Dundee in 2014. The community is planning to install a new sewer system this year, and this schedule would allow the land to settle before pavement is completed.

* Learned that the MnDOT is working once again to find a way to turn back the former Minnesota 60 at Bigelow to Nobles County.

There was some concern the state may not complete the turn-back because of some contaminated soils, but Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said it may be worked out after all. With the turn-back, the county would receive some funding, which would be used to fund an overlay project on CSAH 14 and CSAH 36.

* Signed an employment agreement with Joseph Udermann, the new Nobles County Assessor. Udermann's appointment will fill the unexpired term of former assessor Byron Swart through Dec. 31.

* Authorized a change in the county's personnel policy regarding dress code. The change will permanently implement a casual dress Friday in all county offices. A policy will need to be written and approved by commissioners before the change in dress code takes effect.

* Accepted a Public Health Preparedness grant of $14,126.99.

* Accepted a $1,346 state grant for boat and water safety in Nobles County. Wilkening said he would like to put a boat lift on Lake Okabena and house the department's boat on the lake. At the same time, he wants to apply for federal grant dollars to get a smaller boat or jet-ski to take out to East and West Graham lakes.

* Authorized Wilkening to sign a grant extension on behalf of the county for funds that will be used to pay Motorola for equipment being purchased for the ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix Emergency Response) system.

* Ratified a contract with MCAPS4, which will allow the county attorney's office to update its computer system in about a year.

* Approved a beer and set-up license permit for Prairie View Golf Links.

* Discussed the trail project being planned along CSAH 35 and CSAH 10 in Worthington and a potential compromise with the Worthington Country Club regarding the trail's location near the tee box on the northwest corner of the golf course.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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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