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County, DNR agree on trout stream easement

Fri, Jan 17th, 2003
Posted in Features

As bitter winter winds rapped against the courthouse windows on Tuesday morning, Steve Klotz of the DNR talked to County Commissioners about trout fishing on the Root River. In particular, Klotz was interested in a proposed trout stream easement that the DNR would purchase on County Farm land near Preston. The approximately 9,000 feet corridor is broken down into three tracts.

The first tract located in Section 32 of the platbook, is a 132 feet wide strip laying south and east of the centerline of the South Branch Root River. The second tract, also in Section 32, is a 264 feet wide strip that lays 132 feet on either side of the centerline of the river. The third strip, located in Section 5, is 132 feet wide and lays north and west of the centerline of the river.

Klotz told the Board he had originally estimated the value of the easement at $108,000, which at one point had climbed to as high as $130,000. He now feels $120,000 is the more accurate figure. The value is determined by estimated market value, total farm and timber value, and acres of deeded farmland and acres of timber.

Klotz outlined the purpose of the easement to include fish stocking and the development of fish habitat. This would include tree planting, fencing, soil erosion control, creating in-stream structures, posting signs, and upgrading as necessary. Angling would be open to the public in these three tracts. Established access routes shall be used as much as possible, However, if there is no available access, other arrangements would be made as needed. The board gave approval to go ahead with the project including determining clear titles.

Spring Valley Hatchery

The DNR representative also brought up the possibility of purchasing the Spring Valley hatchery. The 21-acre property is owned by an individual from Chicago who is willing to sell the acreage. A figure of $200,000 was tossed out. The DNR considers Spring Valley Creek an excellent trout stream and would like to be able to restore the channel and keep development from encroaching upon the prized piece of land.

"I think it’s a worthy project", sided Commissioner Chuck Amunrud. He views the area as a valuable asset to maintaining the integrity of fish life. Klotz inquired about RIM money, (Reinvesting in Minnesota). At this point the county is not yet involved in this program but liked the idea of the DNR acquiring the property.

Maintaining their sense of humor, the commissioners told Klotz the County Farm had become just a bit more valuable as rent bids were opened up earlier in the meeting. The DNR would like to purchase the property, but with the state in a financial bind, that possibility is fading. Five bidders sent in rental offers with the per acre rent ranging from $118 to the top bid of $131.72 which was awarded to Tilman Fingerson, Fountain. The second top bidder fell short by $0.72 per acre.

Capital Bonding

Michael Bubany, David Brown Assoc., Inc. discussed the county’s five year Capitol Improvement Plan.

In addition to the courthouse addition/remodeling project, a minimum-security jail and the relocation of the county shop had been also considered. Bubany was told the shop issue has been resolved for now and that the county would not be looking to have two major construction projects going simultaneously.

The Capital Improvement Plan will be submitted to the state with just the courthouse project at an estimated cost not to exceed $3.8 million. A public hearing regarding the bonding proposal will be held Feb. 11 at 10:00 a.m.

Highway Management Salaries

John Grindland, Highway Engineer, requested the Board consider market adjustments on both his and Assistant Engineer Thomas Miles’s salaries. The request is based on a collection of statistics from a "market study" Grindland noted in his report to the board. Miles is also qualified to complete inspections on bridges, which in the past, has been contracted. This will save the county money in the long run. Miles was promoted from Step 4 Grade 12 to Step 4 Grade 14, which puts him at $47,180.

At the time Grindland was hired, the Commissioners had agreed to adjust his salary in a two-part series. There is no Step/Grade for his present salary of $68,103, which falls noticeably short (7-11.3%) in comparison to highway engineer’s in counties surrounding Fillmore County. Several of those engineers only have five years or less experience. Grindland has put in 17.5 years in his field. The Board agreed to a 1.5% increase for 2003 and 2004 over the 2.5% cost of living raise county employees received. Grindland’s salary in 2003 will be $70,852.65.

•Grindland received approval on a bridge resolution that identifies bridges which will be added to the Capital Improvement Plan. This ensures eligibility for federal and state funding.

•Approved a resolution to enter into a partnership agreement with MN/DOT for various services that will be more cost effective in the long run.

Other business

•Approved the purchase for a new server with the low quote of $3,180 from Venture Computer Systems of Rochester. A separate server is recommended for health information and it is necessary to upgrade the present server. A technical support contract with Venture is also being reviewed.

•Lora Friest, Soils & Water Conservation, gave the yearly update on the county’s feedlot plan for 2003. She said that it is very similar to 2002. The plan is submitted to MPCA for approval.

"Feedlot grants continue to be well funded", said Friest though money has been tight in other areas. She also told the board the county has an "excellent" rating from the state in regard to the over system enforced.

•The Board of Equalization has been set for Tuesday, June 24 at 1:00 P.M.

•Approved adoption of safety/shoes for the Resource Recovery employees with the county paying up to $100 a pair every two years per person. This is also done with the Highway Department.

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