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Office to remain downtown

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday failed to take action on a request to move the county's emergency management office to Prairie Justice Center and under the direction of the sheriff's office.

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday failed to take action on a request to move the county's emergency management office to Prairie Justice Center and under the direction of the sheriff's office.

As a result, the position will remain the same -- a full-time director and department head post housed within the Nobles County Government Center in downtown Worthington.

The board's non-action came after each commissioner offered insight into the position. All five commissioners stated the emergency management position should remain full-time, but only one -- Vern Leistico -- said the office should be moved to the Prairie Justice Center.

"Some of Kent's (Wilkening) points, I thought, were good," Leistico said. "(The emergency management director) has to get out there (Prairie Justice Center) more often and be recognized."

Wilkening, Nobles County's sheriff, again addressed commissioners at Tuesday's meeting and presented a second letter to them explaining the rationale behind moving the office.

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"My request to move the emergency management position out to the Prairie Justice Center and under my authority is a request that I do not make lightly," Wilkening read from his letter. "I made the recommendation as your sheriff on what I believe will be in the best interest to all the citizens and all the agencies of Nobles County. ...My recommendation is one that I feel will enhance the operations of Emergency Management through a better working relationship with all the citizens and all the agencies that we are involved with."

Wilkening thanked the board for its consideration in the matter.

The position of the emergency management director remains open, and the search for a new director continues.

In other action, the board:

l Discussed the need for a hydrological study to be performed on county-owned property within the Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed. The discussion stems from the need to replace a culvert beneath a railroad bridge on property adjacent to Nobles County 9. The size of the culvert and the direction of water flow have the potential to impact a privately-owned well in the vicinity.

Representatives from both the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority and the K-LR Watershed were in attendance. The rail authority needs the culvert replaced as soon as possible so that train traffic isn't jeopardized. Cars used on the line haul predominantly agricultural products, including ethanol.

Impeding the process is the rising cost of the hydrological study. Initially quoted as a $4,500 cost, the county has since been notified the price has risen to $8,400. The rail authority is willing to pay up to $5,000 for the study.

Commissioners urged the two entities to work together to find a solution.

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l Received an update on the activities of the Prairie Ecology Bus from executive director Chrystal Dunker.

Dunker said she'd like to bring the bus to Nobles County more often, and schools would like her to visit, but cost is an issue. She urged commissioners to find outlets for her to bring the bus into the communities to do educational programming.

l Approved the reappointment of Mike McCarvel and the appointment of Mike Bartosh to the Heron Lake Watershed Board.

l Approved the request to promote one of the engineering aide positions within the Nobles County Public Works Department to the position of engineering technician. This will result in a one-step increase in pay for the individual, which was included in the 2006 budget for the department.

l Approved the final pay request of $103,466 to McLaughlin & Schulz for work performed under contract. The payment reflects the settlement agreement signed earlier this year by the county.

l Approved first quarter appropriations of $8,750 for the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. and $6,250 for the Nobles County Fair Association.

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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