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County transfers funds to aid in economic development efforts

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a transfer of more than half a million dollars from its revolving loan fund to the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp., acting as a Local Development Organization.

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday approved a transfer of more than half a million dollars from its revolving loan fund to the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp., acting as a Local Development Organization. 

The transfer will allow the WREDC to loan the money for business development without having all of the restrictions attached to the federally-derived funds. WREDC Manager Abraham Algadi said only a small portion of the county’s funds have been loaned out over the past decade.
“We have an opportunity now to move this fund to WREDC if it was designated as an LDO,” Algadi said. “The only reason we’re doing this is to move the fund to where it’s a more business-friendly lending practice.
“The restrictive nature of the requirements may be the reason the funds haven’t been loaned out too much in the past,” he added.
Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson explained that the $562,183 in the revolving loan fund will remain federal dollars. The first loan to be issued from the fund must meet the federal requirements.
“But, as that money comes back, it is no longer restricted and can be loaned,” Johnson said.
“The goal is to get the money out there and get it working,” Algadi added.
PurNet, in the midst of a new building project in Worthington’s industrial park, is anticipated to apply for more than $446,000 of the available money.
Transfer of the $562,183 from the county’s revolving loan fund to the LDO was approved unanimously by commissioners.
In other action, the board:

  • Rejected the bids for the Nobles County Government Center’s staircase improvements. Johnson said that after requesting changes in the bids, the bids were lowered by less than 10 percent, resulting in an overall bid of approximately $400,000. He has since received a proposal from a Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company that may be able to create a safe design at a cost of about half of what the original bids were.

Johnson recommended commissioners reject the bids and start over with a new design and construction management firm.

  • Approved final payment of $343,951.51 to Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg for bituminous paving projects completed in 2014.
  • Approved conditional use permits for Brian and Russell Penning, Summit Lake Livestock, to construct a 105-foot diameter, 12-foot deep open concrete manure storage facility in the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 9, Summit Lake Township, rural Wilmont; for Anthony Lonneman Co., of Ellsworth, to construct two total confinement barns - a 51- by 193-foot structure and a 51- by 96-foot structure - with concrete pits below in the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 34, Little Rock Township; and for Kevin Kolander, Fulda, to operate a home extended business consisting of an auto body repair shop on land in the northwest quarter of Section 22, Seward Township.
  • Approved a new policy outlining when rural intersection lighting may be considered for installation. The policy states that lighting may be provided at intersections on roadways that provide a direct route to a community, have a documented history of safety problems and have more than 1,000 vehicles travel the road per day.

In addition, the county board of commissioners must approve any intersection lighting request.

  • Discussed issues with address signs the county installed in 2014. Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said there have been some issues with people moving the signs, but the county doesn’t have jurisdiction if the properties are located along township roads. It was determined county commissioners would raise the issue at a scheduled township annual meeting Tuesday evening.

“I don’t think we want these signs going up randomly all over the place,” said Commissioner Marv Zylstra.

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  • Declared a 2002 Chevy pickup truck in the Nobles County Public Works department as surplus property.
  • Presented the March Excellence in Performance Award to Sarah Gertsema, a correctional officer with the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Received an update on the grant awarded to Nobles County Community Health and Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services’ Statewide Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) from the Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health. The funds are aimed at preventing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The agencies’ SHIP program will receive $300,733 annually for the next four years, with some of those funds used to hire three or four additional staff in Worthington, including a full-time registered dietitian.
  • Accepted a $1,600 grant from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation to support the work of the SHIP partnership, specifically the “I Can Prevent Diabetes” program, by funding two 16-week classes in both English and Spanish.
  • Heard a Community Health Assessment presentation from Community Health Services Director Terrie Janssen, including identification of the Top 10 health concerns in Nobles County.
  • Approved a beer license and set-up for Dakota Golf Management, managers of Prairie View Golf Links.
  • Approved a position reclassification within the Nobles County Auditor-Treasurer’s office for the creation of a three-fifths time deputy auditor-treasurer/payroll administrator.
  • Received an update in the county’s information technology department. IT Director Angelo Torres said that since he was hired in 2013, the decade-old computers were upgraded, the servers and software were upgraded, GIS was added and a technology roadmap was created. This year, Torres said the goal is to add the Worthington and Adrian branch libraries into the county’s network, as well as the Adrian Public Works shop, and work on a video storage program for law enforcement, among other projects.
  • Approved a request from New Beginnings, leasing a portion of the former KidsPeace Academy at Prairie Justice Center (PJC), to provide limited custodial services at an additional rate of $300 per month.
  • Approved replacement of the PJC water heater. The single water heater will be replaced with two gas water heaters. The project will be funded with $35,000 taken from the county’s building fund.
  • Appointed Brian Schaap to the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • Approved the advertisement for bids for repairing the heating and cooling systems in the Nobles County Library.
  • Approved an extended leave of absence until April 30 for an employee in the Nobles County Library.
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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