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Government center needs more improvements

WORTHINGTON — After nearly two years of upgrades to the Nobles County Government Center, there’s still additional work to be done.

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Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson told commissioners Tuesday morning that a couple more projects have surfaced that weren’t in the original facilities improvement program — at a potential cost of more than $100,000.

The first project, approved by commissioners during their Tuesday board meeting, is to update the private elevator located in the government center garage that extends to the former jail area. The old jail is utilized for storage, so employees primarily use the elevator to transport boxes of files and other materials.

“The elevator gets used quite regularly,” Johnson said, adding that now would be the time to update the elevator since contractors are already repairing the two public-use elevators in the building. The estimated $60,000 project would include new pumps, controllers and door operators, he said.

“I think $60,000 is well-spent to avert any problems,” said commissioner Don Linssen, who utilized the elevator during his years with the Worthington Police Department.

Money for the repairs will come from the county’s building fund.

The second project is in the towers of the Government Center, where sheetrock was damaged due to years of water leaks. The handrails in the staircases are no longer up to code and will also need to be replaced. Without an actual estimate — the cost of the work is thought to be approximately $40,000 — Johnson said a decision on that project will be delayed.

Commissioner Matt Widboom said there was still some leaking taking place in at least one of the towers. He noted during the rains last week that water had ponded in one of the first floor stairwells. Johnson said he would advise contractors of that discovery.

In other action, the board:

- Conducted a public hearing on the county’s 2013 Local Water Management Plan Amendment. This is the five-year update to the 10-year water plan written by Nobles County Environmental Services, Nobles Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Okabena-Ocheda and Kanaranzi-Little Rock watershed districts.

The plan focuses on surface water, drainage management and public water supply. It outlines priority projects for the next five years at a cost of $20 million. The projects will be funded through state, federal and local resources.

With no public comment presented, the plan will be sent to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for review. Once that is completed, it will come back to the county board for adoption.

- Discussed a request from Nobles County Community Services Director Stacie Golombiecki for two new positions included in the department’s 2014 budget. The first position is for an income maintenance person to handle the anticipated 400 new cases as a result of the new MNsure guidelines and the increase in the federal poverty line.

Golombiecki said the position is eligible for up to 75 percent reimbursement from the state. The estimated cost of the position is $46,500, and minus the reimbursement, the county’s cost would be approximately $11,700.

The second position is to establish a four-fifths social worker position instead of a full-time case aid position. The change will mean an added cost of approximately $2,200.

- Approved assigning one of the vehicles in the county fleet to Nobles County Community Services, and then upgrading it to a mini-van-type vehicle.

Golombiecki said with larger families, the agency occasionally needs to transport children from one family in two vehicles, which also requires additional staff time. There is funding available in the county’s equipment revolving fund for the replacement, and Golombiecki said it can get up to $6,133 in Federal Financial Participation grant dollars to help cover the cost.

- Accepted an Emergency Management performance grant of $21,306, which helps cover the salary of the EM director. The grant is applied for annually, and the county will receive slightly more money than it was awarded last year.

In addition, Emergency Management Director Joyce Jacobs was congratulated for completion of her EM certification earlier this month.

- Accepted a county Veterans Service Office Enhancement grant contract with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs for $10,000 in 2014. The funds will be used for advertising and outreach to assist local veterans with benefits they may be eligible for. Nobles County has 1,490 veterans.

- Approved a grant application seeking $4,750 to implement the first phase of the Property Records Information Systems of Minnesota (PRISM) program in the county assessor’s office. The program is mandated from the state, but only $300,000 is available statewide to counties for implementation.

This program will allow counties to compile data in a format consistent with the state’s system.

- Approved costs for licensing, set-up and servers for the county’s GIS program. The program will be funded through the compliance/integration land records fund.

- Presented a certificate of appreciation to Barb Williams for more than 25 years of service to Nobles County. Williams will retire on Oct. 31. She began her career in the Extension office, and has worked most recently in the county administration office.

- Designated commissioner Marv Zylstra as the voting delegate and commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. as the alternate for the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust’s annual meeting.

- Approved custodial services agreements with Robin Stoyke, doing business as Lampert’s Carpet Cleaning, for the county library and public works facilities.

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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