Tobacco license approved for Corky's Corner in Worthington

Sale of Casey's General Store had been held up as county debated its tobacco ordinance.

Casey's on the corner of North McMillan Street and Oxford Street in Worthington as shown Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
Casey's on the corner of North McMillan Street and Oxford Street in Worthington as shown Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County commissioners approved during their Tuesday meeting a tobacco license for Corky’s Corner, a franchise in the process of purchasing the Casey’s General Store at 1007 Oxford St., Worthington.

The action comes two weeks after the board tabled the request so it could review the ordinance and obtain additional legal counsel. The county’s public health department recommended denying a tobacco license to Corky’s Corner based on the property’s location — within 1,000 feet of a youth-oriented facility. Casey’s, and all other tobacco license holders, were grandfathered in when the ordinance was updated a year ago.

Nobles County Community Services Public Health Administrator Michelle Ebbers said Trojan Field, property owned by District 518, was determined by her office to be a youth-oriented facility, and is located 824 feet, by shortest distance, from the property at 1007 Oxford Street.

Nobles County Attorney Joe Sanow, however, stated that there’s no way to know if events at Trojan Field draw a minimum of 25% of ticket sales from individuals under the age of 21.

“If you are not convinced it is a youth-oriented facility, considering there’s no ticket information … or head counts to show youth numbers — you could say there isn’t enough information to determine that it meets the criteria of a youth-oriented facility,” Sanow said. “That is one option the board can consider.”


Commissioner Chris Dybevick said in his interpretation of the tobacco ordinance, Trojan Field does not fit the description of a youth-oriented facility like a school building would. He also noted that Avalon and possibly the Worthington Hockey Arena could fit the description of a youth-oriented facility and would also be within the range of 1,000 feet from the Casey’s property.

Board Chairman Bob Demuth, Jr. said that when the ordinance was amended last year, he was thinking only of “brick and mortar” youth-oriented facilities.

“It seemed like a good decision at the time,” he said. “From an economic standpoint, a commerce standpoint, the value (of the property) would be reduced a lot (if tobacco sales weren’t allowed.) With tanks underground, it makes sense to operate as a gas station, and gas stations and tobacco products go hand in hand.”

Peter Coyle, of Larkin Hoffman Attorneys, representing both Casey’s and Corky’s Corner, said Sanow’s approach to the ordinance was a “pragmatic and thoughtful solution.”

“It would allow the license to be approved, and it would allow the pending transaction — the sale of the property — to go forward,” Coyle said. “We would appreciate the board’s support of the interpretation that’s been made and support of the tobacco license itself.”

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the tobacco license for Corky’s Corner, with Ahlers voting in opposition. He wanted to amend the county’s ordinance.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a new tobacco license application for Casey’s Retail Company, which intends to purchase the Lakeside Travel Plaza, a Sinclair gas station with a Godfather’s Pizza Express, at 1097 Gateway Dr., Worthington.
  • Adopted a resolution supporting the sale of seven acres of grassland, the majority of which is native prairie, from landowners Maxine Gerloff and Shirley Rezabek to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources section of wildlife. The land, located in Section 25, Dewald Township, will be incorporated into the existing Lambert Prairie Wildlife Management Area. The current property tax paid on the tract is $36 per acre ($252 total), and once the transfer is completed to the DNR, the county is slated to receive a payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $52.29 per acre ($336 total) until the land is reassessed.

The tract will become part of the Wildlife Management Area and will remain in grassland and open for public enjoyment.


  • Approved requests through the Nobles Home Initiative for 5-year property tax abatements for the construction of new homes for Joseph and Angela Joswiak and Nate Lynn. The Joswiaks are proposing to build a new home on their site in Elk Township; Lynn is proposing to construct a new home on his site in Lismore Township.
  • Authorized the purchase of 51 new Poll Pads (iPads), transport cases and sleds to be used as voting equipment by the Nobles County auditor-treasurer’s office at a cost of $21,802.50.
  • Authorized spending $8,500 to hire Koch Hazard to create a pre-design for the remodeling of the Nobles County Library in Worthington.
  • Opted to end a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for housing Immigration and Naturalization Service detainees in the Nobles County Jail. Sheriff Ryan Kruger noted the costs associated with being Prison Rape Elimination Act-compliant — a Department of Human Services requirement that is more stringent than the Department of Justice’s PREA standards the county currently complies with.
  • Approved the update of a resolution designating the county’s depositories, adding Leading Edge Credit Union and Worthington Federal Savings Bank to the list of potential depositories, and adding US Bank to purchase investment products through Moreton Capital Markets.
  • Authorized the auditor-treasurer’s office to mandate electronic funds transfer for local taxing districts.
  • Authorized submitting a certificate of need to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency outlining the amount of the county’s mixed municipal solid waste needing to be disposed of at the Nobles County landfill during the years 2023 through 2025. The estimated amount of solid waste to be disposed of at the facility is 10,000 tons per year.
  • Recognized Colleen Houselog, child support officer with Nobles County Family Services, for 35 years of service.
  • Welcomed 10 students from Worthington Christian School who were participating in Government Day by attending a portion of the board meeting and visiting with various departments within county government.
  • Approved an application for a parade permit for Ellsworth to host its Family Fun Days parade on June 10. The parade will impact traffic through the community from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
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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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