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County to seek $10 million road bond

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday authorized bond counsel to move forward with the issuance of a $10 million general obligation state-aid road bond in anticipation the money would be available by the end of this year, to be us...

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday authorized bond counsel to move forward with the issuance of a $10 million general obligation state-aid road bond in anticipation the money would be available by the end of this year, to be used on road projects in 2017.

George Eilertson of Northland Securities said state statute allows counties to seek state aid road bonds of up to $10 million. Favorable oil prices, historically low financing interest rates and the county’s AA+ bond rating are hoped to lure an aggressive bidding process on the 10-year financing term, he said.

Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said the $10 million will be spent on bituminous overlays on approximately 70 miles of existing paved county roadways.

“These roads are starting to deteriorate,” Schnieder said, noting that repairs were last done on them 25 to 30 years ago. “We’ve already started doing some higher cost maintenance on some of these roads.”

Schnieder said the $10 million will allow his department to get the roads “caught up.”

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“The interest rates are low, the cost of inflation we think is going to be higher,” he said. “Inevitably, we know construction costs are going to go back up again.”

Eilertson said the bond call will be Dec. 8. Repayment of the bonds will be made through the county’s state aid construction allotment, with its maintenance allotment to cover the interest.

“In no way does this impact people’s property taxes at all,” Schnieder said.

Nobles County commissioners have spent considerable time in recent years discussing the need to put more funding toward its infrastructure, particularly roads.

“We talked about this at numerous work sessions,” said board chairman Gene Metz. “It’s in our five-year plan.”

“I feel this is the opportune time,” added Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. “I think it’s time to pull the trigger.”

Also on Tuesday, commissioners approved a reimbursement bond regulations resolution pertaining to a second bonding project they hope to pursue in early 2017 to address a list of items on the county’s capital improvement plan.

In other action, the board:

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  • Approved requests from applicants North Development Group of Richmond, Ill., and South Lake Development LLC, Worthington, for five-year tax abatements through the Nobles Home Initiative on new rental properties each entity plans to develop within the city of Worthington.

Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Abraham Algadi said South Lake Development, led by Nicholas Hagen and Al Drost of Worthington, is planning the construction of two market-rate rental townhomes on a 6-acre parcel west and south of Prairie Elementary. Future plans by the developers include construction of four more rental units on the site in 2017.
North Development Group’s plan is to construct two apartment complexes totaling 72 market-rate units north and east of the Grand Avenue extension.

“I think we’ve been striving for a long time with Nobles Home Initiative to get some big housing projects started,” said Metz.

  • Approved a conditional use permit for Nobles 2 Power Partners to construct a 330-foot meteorological tower in the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 25, Leota Township. A permit was required because the tower’s height exceeds 225 feet.
    The tower will gather data including wind speeds, wind shear and barometric pressure as Nobles 2 Power Partners plans construction of a new wind farm in portions of Bloom, Leota and Summit Lake townships. Brian Ammerman, representing Nobles 2 Power Partners, said the goal is to begin construction on the wind farm in 2018.

  • Approved the advertisement for bids on the replacement of the chiller system inside the Prairie Justice Center. The system has three components, one of which has failed, and another component has already been rebuilt. The cost of a new system is estimated at $150,000.

  • Authorized signing a memorandum of agreement between Nobles County Emergency Management and the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

“This allows state and federal government to push alerts out through our system,” said Nobles County Emergency Management Director Joyce Jacobs.
“If there’s a nuclear attack, something like that, they can push that out rather than send it to us to push out,” added Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening.

  • Approved a two-year Minnesota Department of Human Services Community Support grant of $247,382. The funds will be available for use from Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2018.

  • Awarded the bid for snow removal services at the Nobles County Government Center and Library to the lowest of three bidders, Lee Snow Removal of Worthington. The board accepted Option 1, which is a one-year contract.

  • Received the results of a speed study conducted on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 13, east of Rushmore and CSAH 25 into the city of Wilmont. The studies found that the current posted speeds at both locations were appropriate.

  • Approved the transfer of $100,000 that had been budgeted for clean-up of railroad ties along the Southern Minnesota Railway to the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority.

  • Authorized contractors working on the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System to bore under East Gateway Drive and cross Judicial Ditch 6 at two points to bring the water system up to the city’s water treatment plant.

  • Approved the county’s participation in a one-time pilot wellness institute program offered by the Southwest/West Central Service Co-op for employees in the group health plan.

  • Presented Shaina Stein, children services social worker, with the county’s October Excellence in Performance Award.

  • Approved upgrades to the employee wellness and recognition program policy with several modifications.
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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