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County awards bid for government center landscaping fixes

WORTHINGTON — A renegotiated proposal to correct some of the landscaping work done on the Nobles County Government Center property in downtown Worthington last year will cost the county another $122,700, plus $8 per square foot for any additional concrete work.

In action taken Tuesday, the county board accepted a proposal from Ideal Landscape & Design Inc. of Worthington to do the work. On the list is the replacement of the concrete plaza at the 10th Street entrance to the building, replacement of the sidewalk leading to the Fourth Street entrance to the building and fixes to pavers, among other items.

Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson said the added costs to redo work that was rejected last year will mean a couple other projects on the county’s list won’t get done. The projects were part of the Capital Improvement Plan for which the county bonded.

In an attempt to reduce costs, Commissioner Justin Ahlers recommended not doing the bid alternate for in-ground heating of the sidewalk and steps, but that was not supported by fellow board members.

“I’ve seen the damage to steps if we don’t have heated,” responded Commissioner Gene Metz. “I don’t like spending (the money), but it’s time to get this done right.”

“We’ve made quite an investment in landscaping. I want it to look nice,” said Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr.

In other action, the board:

  • Pre-approved payment of $3,120 from the Nobles County Parks department 2020 budget to include a home dome with the purchase of new playground equipment for Maka-Oicu County Park. The department is purchasing new equipment at a cost of $36,245, which includes installation.

Parks Superintendent Jake Smith said Midwest Playscapes is willing to send two invoices to meet the department’s budget constraints, with the second invoice to be sent in January 2020 at no additional cost or interest.

  • Approved a new policy for handling write-offs in the county’s Pay for Stay collections program. Nobles County Finance Director Jerry Vyskocil requested the policy, which will serve as a guideline to staff for collecting monies owed or marking accounts uncollectible after all steps have been taken.

“We’re not asking to stop the program,” Vyskocil said. “We’re asking for a way to clean up the system.

“We have never purged any of the accounts out of there,” he added. “That’s why we want to do a Pay for Stay write-off. There’s no way we’re going to collect some of this.”

The current unpaid balance for Pay for Stay is nearly $1.2 million, with some of those accounts dating prior to 2005, when they were entered into QuickBooks. Finance department employee Amy Dykstra said about $15,000 was collected last year through revenue recapture — the final tool available to the county to collect payment.

  • Approved a five-year tax abatement through the Nobles Home Initiative for Larry and Sharon Balster to construct a single-family home on two lots at 813 Oklahoma Ave. S., Adrian.
  • Approve permits for temporary on-sale liquor licenses for the Lao Buddhist Temple for special events on June 22, July 13 and Aug. 17.
  • Set June 17 as the hearing date for three judicial ditch systems, with the JD 24 hearing at 9:30 a.m.; JD 13 at 10:15 a.m. and JD 9 hearing at 11 a.m. that day in the Farmer’s Room. Informational meetings with landowners are slated for June 6.
  • Approved the disposal of surplus property within the public works department. The items include two gravel pup trailers, two pickup tool boxes, a hydraulic press, 500-gallon sprayer, air compressor, power washer and numerous other items.
  • Authorized the replacement of a 2010 Chevy Impala with 170,000 miles in the county’s carpool fleet with a new vehicle at a purchase price not to exceed $24,000. The Impala will then be placed on an online auto auction.
  • Approved a new lease with the county’s parks supervisor for the house at the entrance to Maka Oicu County Park at a rate of $75 per month. The one-year lease can be extended for three additional one-year periods.
  • Authorized the advertising of bids to repave the public works department’s shop lot. Bid opening is slated for 1:30 p.m. June 24.
  • Approved a parade permit for the City of Ellsworth on June 22 for its Family Fun Days. The permit includes the request for closure of County State Aid Highways 11 and 30 during the parade.
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 The Farm Bleat

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