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Nobles County to pursue grant for new library construction

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WORTHINGTON -- Despite their plans to wait until mid-April to decide whether a new branch of the Nobles County Library will be built in Worthington, Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized library staff to apply for a $1 million public library accessibility improvement grant available from the Minnesota Department of Education for library improvements.

The grant is a dollar-for-dollar match, meaning the county could get up to $500,000 from the state education department. The grant stipulates the money can be used for expanding an existing library or constructing a new facility.

"If you decide you want us to move forward (with the grant application), we will need to get to work on it right away," said Library Director Julie Wellnitz.

In looking over the grant qualifications, Commissioner Marv Zylstra said applicants need to show a history of working on a project for six or seven years, and show an obligation to get bonds to fund the project.

"It looks to me like we qualify for the program," he said.

While there was some question as to how soon the grant dollars would need to be spent, board chairman Bob Demuth Jr. said he thought the county should at least try for the funds.

"I think we ought to take a swing at it with what we've got," Demuth said. "We know we're going to build a new library, we just don't know how big or how much."

Wellnitz said the grant application would state that the Plum Creek Library System will be a part of the new library. Previously, there was talk of Plum Creek staying where it was to reduce the overall size of a new library building.

Interim Nobles County Administrator Vijay Sethi said commissioners will be given a draft of the resolution at the Feb. 19 meeting. That is the same meeting in which library committee members plan to give commissioners an update on the progress being made regarding site possibilities and size of a new library.

Commissioner Gene Metz asked if the resolution could wait until April, when the board makes a decision about the fate of the library, but Sethi said time is of the essence for the grant application.

"The deadline for the application is March 26," Sethi said. "It's an annual thing, so if you miss the deadline, you can apply next year."

In other action, the board:

* Accepted a $4,000 grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to expand the capacity of the county's Medical Reserve Corps and Public Health Preparedness program.

* Approved changes to the county's personnel policy relating to annual leave, extended sick leave bank and post health care savings arrangement. Most notable of the changes is that employees may use extended sick leave hours for preventive and wellness appointments, and to care for step or foster children, mother-in-law or father-in-law, in addition to those relatives previously mentioned in the policy. The changes take effect immediately for non-union county employees.

* Approved payment of $500,000 to the Southwestern Mental Health Center for its new office building in Worthington. This is a low-interest loan to the SWMHC that will be paid back with a 1 percent interest rate.

* Approved payment of $227,625.18 to Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water. These funds pertain to the indemnity agreement between LPRW and the county.

* Learned that Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Balster has created a plat for the consolidation of ISD 513 (Brewster) and ISD 516 (Round Lake) schools. The two school boards will need to approve the plat.

* Approved payment of $78,356.78 to Thompson Electric for electrical work performed.

* Appointed Layton Gruis to the Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed Board.

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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