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County to apply for challenge grant to upgrade manure management practices

Fri, Dec 27th, 2002
Posted in Features

Fillmore Countys Soil & Water Conservation District Officer Lora Friest informed the County Board of the availability of a Challenge Grant at their final 2002 board meeting.

The grant is available through the MN Board of Soil and Water Resources and, if obtained, would be used to develop data management software to connect GIS data, the feedlot registration data base, and nutrient management software Friest said.

The upgrade would speed up the development of manure management plans for livestock producers in Fillmore County. This could be tested in the South Fork of the Root River watershed and then determine the best management practices under the terms of the grant agreement.

Fillmore County has 177 feedlots with 300 or more animal units that are required to have manure management plans developed by January 1, 2005," explained Friest.

It is also estimated that 825 of the 1379 feedlot owners with less than 300 animal units will need provisional permits for manure management plans by 2005. Friest told the board that because of the sensitive physical features in the county such as sinkholes and streams, creating individual plans could become time consuming and could cost as much as $1,200 per plan.

Friest said the $30,000 grant request is $15,000 in-kind from the Soil and Water Conservation District and $15,000 in landowner cost-share match.

Approximately $5,000 would be used to conduct dye tracing in the South Fork for the Root River watershed. The watershed has hundreds of feedlots and over 100 sinkholes, a good area to test the new computer system concluded Friest. The board approved the resolution to apply for the grant.

Year-end Farewells

While making his final comments to the board, Commissioner Harry Root walked over to "the chair" and sat in it. The chair, which faces the board, is where department heads sit while making their requests, answering questions, and yes, at times, squirming a bit.

"Its not a good (comfortable) chair", laughed Root as he said his good-byes. "Each person here is unique and has brought something to the board. Its been a great ride," said Root.

Carrying on with that spirit, Chairman Duane Bakke continued, "We set some goals and went through with them. We need to continue forward." Bakke said he was happy to have been the countys chairman for the last year.

Zoning Amendments

Zoning continues to refine its ordinances. Zoning Admin-istrator Norm Craig brought three proposed amendments before the county board.

1).The construction of all new dwellings must be sited on an existing building site or on land classified for more than 10 years by the Fillmore County Assessor as pasture, wasteland, woodland, or on land having a crop equivalency rating of 65 or less. This amendment was approved.

2).Adjacent dwelling occupants and land owners within a 1/2 mile of the surveyed boundary of a rock quarry shall receive annual notification from the quarry operator of their right to receive notice of specific blasting events. The Assessors Office will provide names and addresses of landowners. Notification of a specific blasting shall be provided at least 10 days prior to blasting. This amendment was approved.

3). A third amendment discussed dealt with abandoned mobile homes. The concern is based on the fact that several trailer parks outside of the county are closing. Fillmore does not want to become a dumping site for unclaimed trailers, nor does the county have an established policy regarding this. Zoning would like to require any abandoned mobile homes not on the tax roll be disposed of. There are three sites, which will take such structures. One is in Austin, with a $300 charge, a second in Wabasha at $1,000, and a third near Kasson with a $750 charge. The owner would pay the charge. Those trailers used as hunting cabins or storage sheds must also be listed on the tax roll with a very minimum fee. More discussion on this to follow.

Other Business

The five year Improvement Capitol Plan was discussed briefly. Michael Bubany of David Drown Associates, Spring Valley, is conducting the plans project. He has interviewed various County staff to determine what, if any other projects need to be included in the plan. The three top projects include a minimum-security jail addition with 25 beds, estimated cost of $300,000; relocation of a county shop, $400,000; and improvement of local county roads at a cost of $250,000 per mile.

Newly elected County Attorney Brett Corsons proposed salaries for his department were discussed. Corson had requested a 5% cost of living raise on top of the current $56,500 salary of retiring County Attorney Matt Opat. Commissioners Harry Root, Helen Bicknese and Marc Prestby thought it wasnt right to give a cost of living raise to a person that had just entered the office. The board voted unanimously to keep the current salary of $56,500 in place.

A cell phone bill submitted by Larry Hunt, Veteran Services Officer, was pulled and discussed at length. Apparently Hunt had purchased a new telephone for $100, a figure the board saw as being extremely expensive. Hunt had offered to pay half of the charge. Commissioner Randy Dahl pointed out the original reason for purchasing cell phones by the county was for emergencies. He also noted the basic phone is enough and when signing up for a new service, theyre usually free. Chairman Bakke felt there were too many cell phone plans floating through the checkbook. Bickness, Root and Prestby were also opposed to the over use of the phones. The board concluded that the county needs to develop a formal policy regarding cell phones.For now, however, Hunt will be asked to return the phone and acquire a less expensive unit.

The board accepted the resignation of Eric Herendeen, Assistant Fillmore County Attorney. He has accepted a position as Chief Deputy Mower County Attorney effective January 16, 2003.

The commissioners approved a salary policy for part time deputies, jailers, and dispatchers setting pay at Step 1 of their respective classifications in the union contract that is currently in effect.

Commissioner Dahl announced Fillmore County will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in March of 2003.

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