Public health options sought

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners voted Tuesday to release Rock County from the joint powers agreement for public health, but not until Dec. 31, 2011.

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WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners voted Tuesday to release Rock County from the joint powers agreement for public health, but not until Dec. 31, 2011.

The joint powers requires a minimum one-year notice to exit, but the counties could have parted ways had they both decided to merge with Lincoln-Lyon-Murray-Pipestone (LLMP) Public Health at the beginning of 2011. LLMP planned to form a combined Southwest Health and Human Services agency.

Commissioners are not yet ready to commit to a six-county health and human services collaboration, and on Tuesday directed Administrator Mel Ruppert to continue gathering information -- specifically related to finances and programming -- on the LLMP option, as well as the option to establish a county partnership between health, human services and community corrections.

Ruppert cautioned the information will not be compiled until after Jan. 1, at the earliest.

"This is a big move no matter which way we move," said Commissioner David Benson, adding that he would still like to meet with Rock County Commissioners to discuss the issue and hear their reasoning for wanting out of the joint powers.


"I'm just not ready to commit to one or the other right now," said Commissioner Vern Leistico. At this point, he's "more tempted" to have Nobles County form its own combined health, human services and corrections agency.

Benson said corrections, which is also in a joint powers agreement with Rock County, has an active advisory committee and progressive director. He doesn't want to jeopardize that agency, and said there is potential for corrections to collaborate with several other counties.

"Right now, I'm leaning toward the (Public Health) joint powers with the other five counties," Benson said. "I think we've been a model -- we've been very respected in the state, and I think that will be jeopardized as a stand-alone agency."

Commissioner Gene Foth said he believes the county has a "viable group" of employees to form a stand-alone agency.

In other action, the board:

* Set the 2011 not-to-exceed proposed property tax levy at 4.9 percent. The public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Dec. 14 in the board room of the Nobles County Government Center.

* Discussed the occupancy agreement for the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) system to be operated from the Prairie Justice Center in Worthington. Nobles County will charge partnering counties for operational costs on a pro-rated fee, while building costs will not be charged.

* Approved a request from Sheriff Kent Wilkening to advertise from within the sheriff's department to fill an investigator position. The vacancy was a result of moving the existing investigator into the night sergeant's position.


* Received an update on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's detour plan for the Minnesota 60 project. MnDOT is performing some spot patching and will do an overlay on CSAH 4, 5 and 33 yet this fall to prepare the roads for the detour route beginning next spring. The detour will remain in effect through the end of the 2011 road construction season. MnDOT will perform maintenance on the detour route during the construction project.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Jesse Feeken of Rushmore to establish a new feedlot in the southwest quarter of Section 18, Ransom Township.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Mark Van Essen of Leota to construct an 86- by 360-foot total confinement building to house 240 head of dairy cattle, and a 180-foot diameter by 12-foot deep outside concrete manure storage area in the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 8, Leota Township.

* Approved a conditional use permit for 3B Farms LLC of Adrian to construct a 70- by 202-foot cattle confinement barn with pit below in the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter, and the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 25, Lismore Township.

* Approved a conditional use permit for Mathiowetz Construction to establish barrow pits in the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 33, Worthington Township; in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 17, Bigelow Township; and in the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 9, Bigelow Township.

* Learned the CSAH 11 bridge northwest of Ellsworth will not be replaced until early October because the contractor is behind schedule.

* Awarded the low bid on the Nobles County Ditch 2 cleanout to Conrad Heggeseth Construction, Windom, at a cost of $1.42 per foot. The work will begin in a couple of weeks.

* Authorized declaration of surplus property in the sheriff's department, including a 2005 Chevy Impala and two 2006 Impalas. The cars had already been replaced and had been used as spares for the department.


* Approved a solid waste recycling permit for Henning Construction, Adrian.

* Received a report from Diana Madsen, Heron Lake, regarding the Second Harvest Heartland initiative to eliminate hunger by 2012. A program will begin in January to increase emergency food availability, increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by increasing awareness and decreasing the stigma; and simplifying eligibility for the program.

* Authorized an agreement with ProWest to update the county's GIS (Global Information System) plan that was established in 2003. The cost of the assessment is $5,943, and the work will be completed by Nov. 30.

* Reappointed Rolf Mahlberg to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District board; and appointed Dennis Kunkel to the Park Board.

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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