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Nobles County talks funding for fairgrounds road

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners had a lengthy discussion during their Tuesday morning work session about replacement of the paved road on the Nobles County Fairgrounds in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON - Nobles County commissioners had a lengthy discussion during their Tuesday morning work session about replacement of the paved road on the Nobles County Fairgrounds in Worthington.

The pavement that extends from Stower Drive north to the grandstand is in need of replacement, particularly the southernmost stretch leading up to the ice arena.

The question is who will pay for the estimated $300,000 project, and whether to do the project all at once or just the portion from Stower Drive to north of the ice arena.

“Conceptually all of the groups (hockey association, fair association and historical society) like it and conceptually, no one has cash in their pocket to do it,” said Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson.

Commissioner Matt Widboom asked if there was interest in being the financier of the project and asking the other entities, including District 518 and the city of Worthington, to repay the county for a share of the cost. He said he was in favor of doing the entire project at once.

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“If we put $300,000 in it, how much, realistically, are we going to get back?” asked Commissioner Gene Metz, who noted that there needs to also be a solution to water runoff from the ice arena before the road is replaced.

At this point, the county hasn’t budgeted any money for the road. Commissioner Donald Linssen said while he doesn’t disagree the road needs attention, the budget committee just denied positions for the coming year.

“It’s definitely a need - it’s beyond a need, it’s bad,” Linssen said. “At the same token, I’ve been through these (budget) meetings and listened to these people and have been a little hard-nosed about (spending). I have a hard time allocating to this when we said no to all these other people.”

Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said it may be easier for entities to contribute a smaller allotment over a period of time, such as $10,000 a year for 10 years. Another option he suggested would be for the county to increase its appropriation to the fair board, with funds designated toward the road. It’s possible the school district could do the same with its hockey association appropriation.

“The problem’s not going to go away,” Schnieder said. “It’s only going to get more expensive.”

“I think we should have some skin in the game,” Demuth said. “Out of the six (entities), for the county to be one-third of the funding for the project, I think, is a little skewed.”

He added that he’s “in full agreement” of having the whole project done.

Commissioners directed Schnieder to meet with Worthington City Engineer Dwayne Haffield to discuss the project further.

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In other business, commissioners:

  • Worked to identify projects that can be added to the county’s Capital Improvement Project bond, as not all of the money bonded will be needed for the initial project list.

Among those selected for potential funding include removal of a fuel tank near the Fourth Street entrance of the Government Center, replacement of an air handler at the Government Center, replacing the balance of the windows at the Prairie Justice Center (PJC) after rust was discovered in every window that was removed, installing a new boiler at the Public Works facility and putting some money toward the proposed data center inside the Government Center.

  • Received an update from the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership about ongoing construction projects.

The manufacturer of the roofing material for the PJC was in town to do a walkover and was impressed with how the new roof is going on. Material was being installed to allow for roofing to continue as the temps drops. Once that roof is completed, the contractor will do the reroofing of the Public Works building.
The PJC garage addition permits are back from the state, and the fittings and stem walls have been poured; that work continues. Minor touch-ups are needed to the security booth installed inside the PJC. The sidewalk was poured Monday on the Fourth Street entrance to the Government Center.

The irrigation system has yet to be installed on the Government Center lawn, and the railings have yet to be added as well. The Adrian Shop floor will be poured later this week or next week.

  • Discussed developing an agreement between Nobles County and its Soil and Water Conservation District regarding compliance and enforcement of the state buffer law. The SWCD is tasked with checking 20 percent of properties per year for buffer compliance, and any cases of non-compliance will be turned over to the county for enforcement.

Just 14 Nobles County landowners, overseeing 19 parcels, have yet to notify the SWCD of their plans for buffer compliance or to request an extension. Buffers are supposed to be in place on Nov. 1.

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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