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County approves settlement

WORTHINGTON -- Following a 15-minute closed session at the start of Tuesday's board meeting, Nobles County commissioners approved a settlement with former Emergency Management Director Emily Cenzano.

The settlement will require Nobles County to pay Cenzano $16,000, with half of that to be paid directly from the county and the other half from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust. The settlement gives the county's hired attorney the authority to finalize a settlement that includes a full and final release of all claims by Cenzano.

Commissioner David Benson introduced the motion to settle the claim, with Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. providing the second to lead to board approval.

"I'll have to disclose it's against everything I believe in," said Commissioner Diane Thier of the settlement.

Cenzano, who was employed by Nobles County from March 2011 to early this past March, had said following her being escorted from the Government Center by then-Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert that she would pursue legal action against the county.

Cenzano was one of four female county employees to band together in filing a complaint against Ruppert last fall. That complaint was in regard to Ruppert's alleged contribution to an adverse work environment in county offices.

In other board action Tuesday, commissioners:

* Approved a contract with Mend Correctional Care, Rogers, to provide medical services at the jail at an annual cost of $132,900. Mend submitted the lowest bid of three agencies that replied to the request for proposals.

* Authorized the advertisement for bids on two county bridge replacement projects, including one on County State Aid Highway 18, west of Kinbrae, and another on a dead-end road in Lorain Township.

* Approved a five-year lease with the Department of Employment and Economic Development/Minnesota Workforce Center for space in the Nobles County Government Center. Over the five-year period, the county will receive $371,020 in rent from the agency.

* Approved several requests to fill personnel vacancies, including a part-time jailer at the Prairie Justice Center; and a full-time mental health worker and full-time child protection worker in Community Services. In addition, the board approved a new position in the assessor's office for a property appraiser/assessment technician. The new position is the result of the office now doing assessing for the city of Ellsworth, with other duties to include assisting with the county's GIS project.

* Approved a request from Mitchell Cox, Adrian, to construct a 66 feet by 366 feet deep-pitted cattle barn in the northwest quarter of Section 6, Little Rock Township. Cox had received approval from the county's planning commission earlier this month for a conditional use permit. The only condition placed on the permit is that the manure be incorporated.

* Accepted a $10,410 federal boating safety grant to purchase a jet ski for the Nobles County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Kent Wilkening said the jet ski will be available to take to lakes in the county and will allow for quicker response. The department's boat is docked on Lake Okabena.

* Received a request from the Southwest Small Business Development Center for a $3,000 contribution for 2013. The board, in the midst of budget discussions, took the request under advisement.

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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