Home building projects on the horizon: Nobles Home Initiative has approved 11 plans so far this year

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners Tuesday approved applications for five new housing projects to be constructed in Worthington through the Nobles Home Initiative program.

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners Tuesday approved applications for five new housing projects to be constructed in Worthington through the Nobles Home Initiative program.

The projects include a new owner-occupied single family home on Sterling Avenue and another on Grand Avenue (at the site of a house fire), planned by Larry Davis of Worthington; a new owner-occupied single family home at 620 Lake St., planned by Doug Nau; and a duplex at 1058 and 1068 S. Crailsheim Drive, planned by V&O Properties (Lyle Voss and Rodney Obermoller).
Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Director Abraham Algadi said 22 units were built through the program last year, and 11 are in progress thus far this year.
“We hope more rental units would take advantage of this, but nevertheless we’ll take what we can get,” Algadi said.
In other action, the board:

  • Approved a resolution for a county ditch system inspection policy. Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said Minnesota statute requires counties to maintain and inspect open ditches every five years and tile lines on a regular basis. Schnieder said ditches will be inspected on a rotating basis every five years, but with 400 miles of tile line in the county, he estimated they would be inspected over a 30-year period if they could get 13 to 15 miles of tile inspected per year.

“This is a vast step above what we have done in the past,” Schnieder said. “In the past, we’d inspect when we received a phone call and we’d only inspect what our camera would reach. It’s not a perfect system, but if you put in (the resolution) that you’ll inspect them all, you leave yourself open.”
Schnieder said the county has been more reactive than proactive in inspections in the past, primarily because of inspection costs. He hopes the county will approve a new camera for inspections - something he is seeking in his 2016 budget. The new camera would collect digital files, whereas its current camera still operates on VHS.
Schnieder also cautioned commissioners that inspection requirements will lead to more costs to the ditch systems, and they may want to levy additional funds to cover the extra costs.

  • Approved a contract with Falls Architecture Studio to complete a reuse study on the Armory Business Center. The $17,000 contract will include three public meetings, three planning meetings, structural analysis, concept planning and a design project, if the county moves forward with a plan. Payment for the contract will come from the county’s building fund.
  • Approved moving forward with a space study for the potential expansion of the garage at the Prairie Justice Center. With summer heat and winter cold detrimental to the equipment now operating in squad cars, Administrator Tom Johnson said the garage has “a lot of value.”

“The idea is to take a long-term look, 10 to 20 years out,” he said of future law enforcement needs. The existing plan was a 12-stall expansion, but the city of Worthington has concerns about that being enough space.

  • Approved recommendations from the Nobles County Planning Commission to continue to allow August Froderman, Reading, to exceed the performance standards in a residential neighborhood as he continues to clean up his property. In addition, the board approved a conditional use permit for the expansion of Ocheda Dairy in Bigelow Township.
  • Approved an amendment to the county’s lease agreement with the State of Minnesota for the Workforce Center. The state’s lease was reduced by 600 square feet, which will be transformed into offices for Nobles County Community Services’ Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program.
  • Approved a grant agreement for continuation of the WIC program from Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2020. Nobles County currently serves approximately 1,065 clients per month, and receives $14.75 in reimbursement from the state per client.
  • Accepted a $10,000 operational enhancement grant for the Nobles County Veterans Service Office.
  • Received a program update from Cheryl Glaeser and Greg Raymo on the efforts of the Southwest Initiative Foundation. The foundation has issued 67 loans, totaling more than $3.4 million, since its inception in Nobles County, with $215,000 in loans issued in 2015. Meanwhile, more than $2 million in grants - nearly $96,000 this year alone - have come to the county. The foundation has a $5.6 million budget, and Glaeser said about 73 percent of funds go back out into communities.
  • Received a program update from Sara Wahl, director of the Southwest Crisis Center. The center assisted with 168 cases of domestic violence and 34 cases of sexual assault in the past year in Nobles County. The number of sexual assault cases has doubled in the last year, Wahl said, adding that she doesn’t know if the increase is because there are more instances of sexual assault or more people reporting the crime.
  • Received a department update from Joyce Jacobs, Nobles County Emergency Management Director. Jacobs showed commissioners one of the AEDs the county received through a grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton grant program. The device will be kept at the Nobles County Government Center, and Jacobs hopes to obtain two additional devices for other county buildings.
  • Approved a month-to-month lease with Kristin Walerius, who will lease a 300-square-foot space in the Armory Business Center at $250 per month.
  • Approved a request to hire a temporary full-time correctional officer to fill in for an employee going on military deployment.
  • Reappointed Les Johnson and Jay Milbrandt to three-year terms the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District. Their terms will expire Oct. 31, 2018.
  • Discussed, but took no action, on agreements for professional services to explore security improvements and cold storage space at the Prairie Justice Center.
  • Presented the August Excellence in Performance award to Linda Loonan, Extension support staff.
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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