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A bit of this and that

Fri, Mar 30th, 2001
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By John TorgrimsonMonday, April 2, 2001

In a meeting shortened so that the county board could take some time out to honor county employees for their years of service, Fillmore County Board Chair Helen Bicknese moved through an abbreviated agenda in quick fashion last Tuesday. Here are the highlites of the meeting.

Dust control It might be hard for rural residents living on unpaved county roads to visualize dusty roads in these last days of winter, nonetheless the county board was a bit surprised that no one had signed up to take part in the county sponsored dust control program. So surprised in fact that the board extended the sign up period an additional week to April 6. For more information, the public is invited to call the Fillmore County Highway Department.

Engineer Vacancy Also receiving little attention is the soon to be vacated Fillmore County Highway Engineer position. Readers may recall that present county engineer Steve Voigts contract will not be renewed by the board when it expires on May 14. The county board voted to extend the application period from March 23 to April 30. County Coordinator Karen Brown told the board that by expanding the application deadline, it will allow the county to expand their pool of candidates.

Commissioner Marc Prestby asked whether it would be too late to have someone in before the present engineer leaves. Brown replied that the Deputy Engineer is in place and that the county can ask County Engineers in other counties to sign off on necessary documents. Stay tuned.

Bridge Replacements The board tabled a resolution to update the countys bridge replacement list that will be sent to the state until next week so that the board will have a chance to review the list in more detail.

Highway Engineer Steve Voigt said that the bridge replacement list includes those bridges requested for replacement by townships.

Commissioner Duane Bakke questioned whether the list included all the bridges, as he believed that some bridges were missing from some townships in his district.

Voigt said that it wouldnt hurt to have every bridge in the county on the list "so that we dont cut ourselves out of funding".

Bakke said that he understood why were doing this, but wanted another week to make sure that we had them (bridges) all in.

Citizen Input Commissioner Bicknese raised the question of whether the county board should formally invite public participation, so as to allow citizens to ask questions, give comments and generally give the county board feedback. It was the consensus of the board that they schedule 15 minutes of time during the last meeting of each month. This will begin in April (April 24 at 9:30 a.m.). People are encouraged to come in person, but if they are unable to do so they can write, email or call in their input to the board.

Transportation Funding A motion by Duane Bakke to support an Association of Minnesota Counties initiative to encourage the legislature to forego proposed sales tax rebate funds, an estimated $824 million, and invest that money in state and local transportation died for a lack of a second. Commissioner Randall Dahl said that this issue is pretty political in that money would be taken from individual citizen rebates and used for transportation. Commissioners Prestby and Bicknese must have agreed, as no one stepped forward to second Bakkes motion.

Kathy Hartl of Historic Bluff Country was before the board to talk briefly and hand out the newly printed Magical Back Roads brochure which is used to promote tourism in the area. Hartl encouraged the commissioners to attend the Southeast Minnesota Tourist Association meeting at the Branding Iron on May 17, where John Edmond, the state director of tourism, will speak. She said it would be a good opportunity to find out more about tourism.

The Fillmore County Department of Social Services was honored by the Minnesota Department of Human Services for meeting state reporting requirements on or before report deadlines.

By John Torgrimson

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