"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Monday, September 1st, 2014
Volume ∞ Issue ∞
 

“It’s all about roads”


Fri, May 18th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, April 30, 2001

“The only thing the county board is concerned about are roads,” one person commented to me a few weeks ago.

And the way in which she said this implied that this was not necessarily a good thing.

About the same time this conversation took place, the county board was off to a meeting in Rushford and decided to stop in Peterson to check out a problem culvert.

“They stop off in Peterson to do culvert work,” she said, rolling her eyes heavenward. “They naturally believe that they are qualified to check out any problem associated with roads and give their professional opinion.”

“You don’t see them stopping off to check on a problem family for Social Services on their way to a meeting in Rochester do you?” she asked incredulously.

“Or, what about Public Health?” she went on. “The county board’s not down there giving flu shots in the Fall because there is a shortage of nurses are they? Well, why not?”

“I’ll tell you why not,” she continued. “They’re not qualified to give flu shots. And they’re not qualified to be doing highway work either.”

She’s right of course.

The Tip O’Neill maxim that “All Politics is Local” when applied to Fillmore County comes out “All County Politics is About Roads”.

Ask any commissioner and they will tell you that they get the most calls from citizens about roads.

“When is it going to be blacktopped?”

“Who’s in charge of dust control on that road?”

“Weren’t they going to fix that bridge last year?”

“Well, just when do you think they’ll get around to plowing then?”

These calls from citizens is what empowers each commissioner to become a road engineer. Because citizen John Doe has called them with a question, they feel they have a mandate to find an answer.

And that is why they have a Road Tour scheduled every six months.

By the way, tour is pronounced in the original Norwegian, as in “let’s go on the Tur on Tursday”.

To follow up on my friends logic, the county board doesn’t take a Sheriff’s Tur each year, looking for likely spots to set up speed traps. Nor do they sponsor a walking Tur to county sinkholes as part of a yearly water quality study.

No, they restrict their Turing to roads.

For the most part, the county commissioners can work as a team in trying to find a common solution to a county problem, but when it comes to roads in their districts they are as protective as a hen with a flock of chicks.

Perhaps that is why the Highway Engineer’s attempt to put together a Five Year Plan was met with an icy reception by some commissioners even though it was intended to be only a “working document”.

Nonetheless, some commissioners were doing some quick counting and comparing road work in their districts with other districts and feeling slighted. The measure passed by a slim margin of three to two.

So with the Highway Engineer scheduled to depart by mid-May and the possibility of that position staying vacant for a while, the county has put in place a Highway Management Transition Team. This team inlcudes two commissioners and two highway professionals.

I wonder if they would do the same thing if there were a vacancy at the top of another department - like say the Auditor’s Office?

The traditional role of a county commissioner has always been about money and roads; watch how much money you spend and fix roads.

Even though we might wish this new board to operate differently, it is unlikely that the way the county board does business will change anytime soon.

By John Torgrimson

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!







Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.