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Nobles County awards $9.5 million paving contract

WORTHINGTON -- After selling $9.5 million in road construction bonds late last year to finance 14 bituminous overlay projects across Nobles County, commissioners on Tuesday learned five bids were received from contractors interested in doing the ...

WORTHINGTON - After selling $9.5 million in road construction bonds late last year to finance 14 bituminous overlay projects across Nobles County, commissioners on Tuesday learned five bids were received from contractors interested in doing the nearly 70 miles of paving work.

Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said Duininck Inc., of Prinsburg, presented the low bid of $9,509,949.58 - nearly $400,000 below the engineer’s estimate for the work.The highest bid came in at more than $11 million, he noted.

“It is a very favorable bid,” Schnieder said of the low bid as he recommended its acceptance.

The county received its money from the sale of bonds in late December to pay for the work. Schnieder anticipates Duininck will begin paving around June 1.

“They need to get material produced before they start,” he said. “If production goes better than what they’re anticipating, they may get started earlier.”

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Included in the bid are projects from the cities of Bigelow and Round Lake, as well as Leota Township. Those communities will now need to decide if the contracted bid is affordable for them to complete projects on their list.

Schnieder said the city of Round Lake wants to complete about five blocks of overlay and possibly extend bituminous surface to one street that is currently gravel. In Bigelow, city leaders identified doing some patching where digging had been done in recent years for the city’s sewer lines. They are also considering paving two blocks. Leota Township is considering resurfacing some streets in the community of Leota.

Commissioner Gene Metz asked if Schnieder had additional projects in need of funding to use the remaining bonding dollars.

Schnieder responded that he has eight bridge construction projects identified this year, with six of them ready to go once funding is secured.

“We’re hoping if we can get bonding money for bridges, we can offset those projects,” Schnieder said. “If we have any money left over from that, we would carry it over and use for future projects in 2018.”

Also on Tuesday, commissioners set March 6 as the sale date for $6,555,000 in General Obligation Capital Improvement Plan bonds. The money will be used to finance a lengthy list of projects, from a new roof, a garage addition and numerous other projects at the Prairie Justice Center to renovations at the Adrian Branch Library and work in both the Government Center and Public Works facilities. Commissioners set a 15-year term for repayment of the bonds.

In other business, the board:

  • Learned that four individuals who damaged county property due to vehicle crashes have not paid bills to repair damage. Schnieder said the four bills stem from incidents in 2014. In each instance, the county sent bills to the individuals between 14 and 17 times. The individuals billed and the amounts owed include: Brandy Lee Arends, $457.49; Travis Lee Harrington, $363.84; Jason McCullough, $152.49; and Jerrill Murray, $478.10.

Due to the inability to collect payment, Schnieder recommended the board declare the debt as uncollectable and be written off in the accounting system. This is the first time his department has had to request the action.
“I think we need some legislation … that you don’t get your driver’s license back until you’ve paid the damages - until it’s paid off,” Commissioner Don Linssen said. “It’s a simple part of doing business.”

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  • Approved a request from Schnieder to add a summer worker to the Public Works department. Schnieder anticipates the position would be from mid-May to mid-August. It was requested because of all of the planned road and bridge projects this summer. Schnieder also mentioned that an opening in his department for an engineer technician wasn’t filled last year and they’re still trying to refill that position. Funds for the summer worker will come from the transportation state aid fund.

  • Received an annual update from Wayne Smith, director of Environmental Services. In his report, Smith highlighted the grant dollars received to develop One Watershed, One Plan for six counties; said his staff continues to identify wells in the county for the GIS program; and said ongoing plans to develop centralized sewer in the community of Reading continues to slowly move forward.

  • Approved a request for a PERA plan change for part-time deputies in the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office. The part-timers have been in the coordinated PERA plan, but Sheriff Kent Wilkening asked that they be in PERA’s police and fire fund instead. Making the change will require both the employee and the employer to increase contributions to the fund. The change will take effect Feb. 12.

  • Approved an agreement between Nobles County Community Services (NCCS) and the Minnesota Department of Health to conduct educational tobacco compliance checks. The agreement provides $1,800 to NCCS to conduct the compliance checks.

  • Approved an agreement with the Medica Foundation for a $3,000 grant to help fund evidence-based abstinence and education curriculum.

  • Presented the January Excellence in Performance award to Myra Palmer, circulation technical services coordinator for the Nobles County Library.
Related Topics: TRANSPORTATION
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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