Nobles County gets $15,559 in federal ARPA funds for emergency management

In talks with Sheriff Ryan Kruger, they identified a need for a thermal imaging drone, which will be shared between public safety and emergency management.

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WORTHINGTON — Nobles County Commissioners accepted a $15,559 American Rescue Plan Act grant targeted toward emergency management operations in the county Tuesday.

Tawn Hall, emergency management director and assistant county administrator, said the federal government authorized some extra ARPA funding in January, but it was not authorized for emergency management until April.

“It’s meant to fill any gaps we may have in our program,” Hall said, adding that with the application timing, she went ahead and applied for the dollars without seeking board approval.

In talks with Sheriff Ryan Kruger, they identified a need for a thermal imaging drone, which will be shared between public safety and emergency management.

Hall said it can be used for search and rescue, and also to take overhead photos of storm damage for reporting natural disasters.


The grant will also fund a Salamander credential printer, to be used for creating ID cards for firefighters in Nobles County. The cards will contain a QR code that can be scanned to identify the firefighter and all of the training he or she has completed.

“This is a first-come, first-served limited grant,” Hall said, adding that two emergency management radios purchased in 2022 were also written into the grant and will serve as the county’s required match to get the funds.

Due to a shortage of drones and Salamander credential printers, Hall requested and received authorization to move forward with ordering the equipment, even though the signed grant agreement has yet to be received.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved some language updates to the Nobles Home Initiative five-year tax abatement program to align language among documents to applicants and the guidelines for the program. The changes are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023, and specifically note that applicants will receive one rate of abatement for the entire five years.
  • Approved Nobles Home Initiative five-year tax abatements for Logan and Kennedy Kopplow to construct a new home in rural Adrian and tear down an existing home on the parcel; for Timothy and Monica Lenz to construct a shouse in Lismore Township and tear down existing home; and for Ronald and Leah Lonneman to construct a new home in Adrian’s Suedkamp addition.

  • Approved a tobacco license for a new Kwik Trip under construction at 1755 N. Humiston Ave., in Worthington. Kwik Trip is slated to open in September.
  • Approved two applications to the county’s child care grant program. A $4,000 grant was awarded to an existing daycare provider to be used toward construction of a storage shed to house child care equipment and protect it from the elements. A $3,946.11 grant was approved to another existing child care provider for repair of a door, replacement of some equipment and construction of a cement pad for children to ride their bikes in the yard.
  • Approved a third change order to a professional service agreement between Nobles County and Stantec Consulting for work in developing a sewer system for the unincorporated community of Reading. The change order is for an additional $53,900, and will be to apply for a point source implementation grant and get the project certified so it’s ready for grant funding in 2024. The total cost of the agreement now stands at $120,050.
  • Approved the purchase of a zero-turn Bobcat riding mower from Titan Machinery, Worthington, at a cost of $8,331.96. Titan offered the lowest of three bids received for a new mower. A motion was also made to sell the old mower as surplus property, listing the items that are wrong with it.
  • Set 11 a.m. June 20 in the Nobles County Government Center Farmers Room, 315 10th St., Worthington, for a public hearing to reopen proceedings regarding damages to Nobles County Ditch 12. The reopening of the hearing is needed as there was an error in the viewers’ recommendation on the alignment of the ditch in the city limits of Worthington. The error means the payment for grass buffer damages need to be corrected, resulting in reopening the hearing.
  • Authorized discontinuing Hepatitis B vaccination services through the county’s public health program due to the expense. The vaccine is available at local clinics. In addition, commissioners approved an increase in the fee for skilled nurse visits to homes.
  • Rescinded a resolution providing emergency paid sick leave for county employees who contract COVID-19, aligning with the Department of Human Services declaration of an end to the pandemic. The resolution takes effect June 1.

Since April 1, 2020, 29 county employees used the entire 80 hours plus some of the day care time that was allowed for a short time. There were 108 employees who used some, but not all, of the 80 hours provided, and roughly 43 employees didn’t use any of the 80 hours.

  • Approved a change in a personnel policy regarding work hours and attendance for five non-union county employees who were required to work night and weekend hours for snow removal efforts during the winter, but were not paid overtime because they stayed within their 40-hour work week. The overtime will be paid for extended shifts, and the change was made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023.
  • Received an update on the Nobles County 4-H Extension program. The county’s memorandum of agreement with the University of Minnesota currently lists 1.25 FTE staffing for the 4-H program, but the .25 position hasn’t been filled and there is a need for more staffing as the 4-H program is growing. U of M Extension is interested in increasing that position to .5 FTE and possibly partnering with Murray County, where a .5 FTE is also being considered. Before the county can act on the measure, it will go before the County Extension Committee for authorization. If approved, it will be factored into U of M Extension’s 2024 budget.
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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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