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County, college talk of collaborating on retention pond

WORTHINGTON -- As Minnesota West Community and Technical College continues to seek partners to help fund a regional stormwater retention pond for its Worthington campus, the project could be delayed until 2013 to capitalize on a potential collaboration with Nobles County.

During Tuesday morning's meeting of the county commissioners, Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said his department could provide excavation and dirt removal for the retention pond -- if soil samples proved it would be good material for the county to use in its trail development project. The trail system has been in the county's development plan for the past several years, and is slated for construction in 2013.

Jeff Harms, facilities director for Minnesota West, said he'd like to begin construction on the project this fall, adding that their goal was to use the dirt excavated from the site to create a berm around the perimeter. The soil has not yet been analyzed to see if reuse of the soil is feasible, but Harms said he would like to work with the county.

The retention pond, to have a dead pool of about 6 feet deep with a maximum of 10 to 12 feet, would serve approximately 120 acres of land that drains from and around the college campus. The plan is to construct it behind the campus softball and baseball field. The pond is required if the college plans to add any more impervious surface, such as a parking lot or another building on the campus.

The E.O. Olson Trust has committed $20,000 toward the completion of the retention pond, while the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District has offered $10,000 -- with $5,000 set aside in 2011 and $5,000 in 2012.

"We're looking to you folks, the city and probably the school district for additional support for this endeavor," Harms told commissioners. He wasn't sure if delaying the project would lead to the loss of funds already committed.

"I'd hate to lose the funding commitment because we're going to wait two years," said Gordy Heitkamp, campus maintenance supervisor.

"We don't get options very often when entities can partner like this," added Schnieder. "I don't want to lose the opportunity. I want to do whatever we can to partner together."

Commissioners directed Schnieder to continue talks with the college regarding the timing of the projects.

In other action, the board:

* Granted the administrative committee the power to act on a proposal from the City of Worthington regarding continued lease of a parking lot at the intersection of Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue. The city has requested the county pay $1,000 per year for use of the lot and an additional $3,000 per year to be kept in a special account for use as needed to repair, resurface or reconstruct the lot.

* Approved a per capita increase for Nobles County's RSVP program, taking the price from $1.39 to $1.42 per capita. Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. reported that RSVP's budget faces a 20 percent federal reduction and a 2 percent state reduction.

* Appointed Nobles County Emergency Management Director Emily Cenzano as the county's safety officer. The new responsibilities will add an hour onto Cenzano's weekly work schedule, with additional compensation of $207.50 per pay period for her time. She is currently a three-fifth's time employee.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Son-D Farms, Adrian, to construct a 24- by 116-foot farrowing barn with concrete pit below in the southeast quarter of Section 24, Westside Township.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Lane Bullerman, Adrian, to construct a 70- by 256-foot bottle calf barn in the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 7, Little Rock Township.

* Accepted the completed environmental assessment for a 115 kV transmission line proposed by Worthington Public Utilities. The assessment will now be published in the EQB Monitor before coming back to the county for final approval in August.

* Approved contracts with Avera McKennan in both Marshall and Sioux Falls, S.D., for 72-hour mental health holds. The contract with Sioux Falls did increase 3 percent, but the rate is still nearly $100 cheaper than the Marshall rate. Family services requested 66 mental health holds in 2010, of which 22 patients were committed. So far in 2011, there have been 21 holds and nine commitments.

* Approved a resolution of support for Nobles County to participate in a performance measurement program for cities and counties. By participating, the county could be exempt from levy limits for 2012 and possibly 2013. In addition, the county would receive 14 cents per capita for participation in the information-gathering program.

* Approved the closure of County State Aid Highway 27 and Nobles County 73 in Rushmore from 4 p.m. July 9 to 2 a.m. July 10 in Rushmore for a parade and street dance as part of Pride and Heritage Days.

* Declared a 1999 Sterling tandem axle truck in the public works department as surplus property, allowing it to be either traded or sold.

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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