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County considers permanent speed signs

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners Tuesday approved the purchase of eight permanent speed signs and two LED stop signs to improve safety in several communities and draw more attention to an intersection that has been the site of fatal cra...

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners Tuesday approved the purchase of eight permanent speed signs and two LED stop signs to improve safety in several communities and draw more attention to an intersection that has been the site of fatal crashes.

Interactive speed signs will be erected in Leota, Lismore, Reading, Wilmont and on Crailsheim Drive in Worthington, while the lighted stop signs will be placed on Nobles County 13, at the intersection with County State Aid Highway 35 north of Rushmore.

Sheriff Kent Wilkening had included $43,400 in his 2016 budget to purchase permanent speed safety signs, but in February, commissioners discussed the use of permanent, interactive speed signs versus portable signs that can be moved from one community to another. At that time, Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder was directed to discuss the issue with Wilkening. On Tuesday, Wilkening recommended the permanent signs due to the manpower portable signage would require.

Communities receiving the signs will be asked to pay for the electricity required, but if they choose not to, Wilkening said solar-powered signs will be erected instead.

The sheriff had recommended a speed sign be placed on CSAH 9 at Reading - a location not previously identified - because of the drop in speed from 55 to 30 mph coming into the community. He also said he’s received several requests from people in Rushmore about reducing the speed limit on CSAH 13, along the community’s east side.
Schnieder said the state must conduct a speed study before speed limits can be altered. As a result, he was directed Tuesday to request the state perform speed studies at both Rushmore and Reading.
“I think we should do it (the speed study) and get these signs up and evaluate how they work … to make the streets and roads as safe as we can,” said Commissioner Donald Linssen, adding that after the interactive speed signs are in use in some communities, there may be requests from other communities.
In other action, the board:

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  • Recognized the Indian Lake Progressives for being chosen from among 13 applicants to receive the Association of Minnesota Counties Youth Leadership award. The 4-H club hosted a 5k run-walk and solicited grants from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation, Optimist Club and others to help fund new park equipment in Brewster. The club will receive its award March 10 during a noon luncheon of the AMC conference.
  • Received an annual report from the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. on the Nobles Home Initiative, a potential modification to the program to encourage development of rental housing and plans for the 2016 Bioscience Conference.
  • Resolved to seek an advance in state aid construction funding for Nobles County Public Works to apply the dollars to 2016 projects.

“The construction plan we have this year will exceed our 2016 allotment,” said Schnieder, adding that there is no interest, penalty or cost to the county to get a funding advance.

  • Authorized the advertisement for bids for bituminous paving projects planned in 2016. Bid opening was set at 1:30 p.m. March 29 in the county’s administration office.
  • Directed Schnieder to contact the county’s legal counsel on drainage systems for input on issues with livestock contributing to problems in a drainage ditch system. There exists a situation in Nobles County in which livestock are allowed access to a drainage ditch, and the ditch has had to be cleaned out numerous times - at the expense of owners of the ditch system.

“It’s not fair to the rest of the owners on that ditch that you have to clean it out all the time,” said board chairman Gene Metz. “If you are expending money to clean (the ditch) out every five years and it’s normally an every 20- or 30-year thing, you’re doing a disservice to the public, too,” Linssen added.

  • Approved a transfer of $7,400 from the county’s general fund to the sheriff’s department budget to replace a 2014 Ford Explorer squad that was totaled in a crash while responding to a call for service.

Wilkening said the insurance company has issued the county a check for more than $24,700 to go toward replacement of the vehicle. A new vehicle will cost more than $27,400, plus the expense of new decals, replacement of some front end equipment and transfer of squad equipment to the new vehicle.

  • Approved a contract with Teamsters Local 320 (Jail Sergeants union), retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015. The approval followed arbitration, which was completed in February.
  • Renewed agreements between Nobles County Community Services and Greater Minnesota Family Services for family-based counseling and life management skills programs; and an agreement with Southwestern Mental Health Center for intensive family-based services.
  • Approved an internship agreement between Nobles County Community Services and Minnesota West Community and Technical College through 2020 for nursing students to intern with public health.
  • Approved a resolution opposing the creation of the Minnesota River Basin Commission (Senate File 2204). County Administrator Tom Johnson noted District 8 leaders were in strong agreement the commission not be supported.
  • Offered support via resolution to the Jackson-Nobles County Drainage Authority as it seeks grant funding from the Legislative Citizen Council on Minnesota Resources Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund to make improvements to Judicial Ditch 13.
  • Approved a request for property tax abatement through the Nobles Home Initiative for Rick and Karen Bullerman to construct a single-family home at 217 Eighth St. W., Adrian. 
  • Presented the February Excellence in Performance award to Gene Bertrand, IT support specialist for Nobles County.
  • Noted several vacancies on boards, committees and commissions in Nobles County, including the Park Board, Extension Committee and Human Services Advisory Committee. Residents of Nobles County are encouraged to volunteer if they are interested by contacting the Nobles County Administration office.
  • Approved a $125 membership fee to join the Minnesota Viewers Association.
  • Set the per diem for members of the county’s Personnel Board of Appeals at $50 per day. Per diems paid to individuals serving on other boards and committees range from $30 to $100 per day.
  • Conducted a closed session to discuss litigation under attorney-client privilege.
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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