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Courthouse to get new electrical service

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, March 5, 2001

One cant help but wonder if the decision of whether to remodel the present courthouse or build new on another site isnt being made by default, given the amount of money being spent on the present building.

In the last several months, the county has been making major improvements to the courthouse. Last fall, the county spent $30,000 on an asbestos abatement project in preparation for the proposed elevator project. The elevator is scheduled to be installed this coming September at an estimated cost of $78,000 (November 1999 prices).

On Tuesday, the Fillmore County Board at their regular meeting approved another $30,000 to upgrade the electrical system.

In a letter to Fillmore County Coordinator Karen Brown, Kane & Johnson Architects, who are handling the elevator project, raised the issue of whether the countys electrical service would be up to handling the demands of the proposed elevator.

Consulting engineers for the architects, Engineered Concepts, Inc. (ECI) looked at the service and found that while it would be adequate for handling the electrical load, the condition of the service is so poor that it may not be able to handle the surges that the elevator would create. This could possibly cause the electrical system to fail.

ECI estimated that it would cost approximately $30,000 to replace the service and the main switchgear. This cost assumes that the building which presently houses the switchgear would not need to be remodeled.

The county board moved quickly to approve the outlay. Commissioner Marc Prestby made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Randall Dahl, to approve the electrical upgrade so that it could be part of the bid specs that go out on the elevator project. The motion was approved.

Chatfield Shop Cleanup

Braun Intertec, consultants for the county on the Chatfield Highway Shop cleanup, were before the board to discuss the status of the current project.

Project Manager Mark Gretebeck told the board that analysis of test results from monitoring wells have showed that contaminant levels have decreased and that continued operation of the system may not be warranted. Braun Intertec has been collecting and treating contaminated ground water for the county the past four years.

In discussing options for 2001, Greteberg said that the county could wait for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to respond to Brauns upcoming report, which could take several months. An alternative would be for the county to recommend to the MPCA that the groundwater monitoring and treatment system be shut down for six months to allow the site to reach equilibrium. They would then test to see if any product plumes had gathered and resume treatment.

Greteberg acknowledged that there are still residual contaminants in the soil, but they may fall within allowable Environmental Protection Agency and MPCA standards. He also said that test results do vary by season, with more contaminants being collected during the wet spring and summer.

The board agreed to pursue this latter option, recommending to shut down the system by May 1. The costs of the Chatfield cleanup are 90% reimbursable from the Petrofund.

Law Enforcement Contract>/b>

Dan Vannelli, business agent for the Law Enforcement Labor Services - Local 85 representing Fillmore County Law Enforcement personnel, presented the unions contract request to the county board. The local is requesting a five percent increase in the year 2001 and another five percent in 2002. The contract also calls for increases in supervisor wage differentials as well as uniform allowances.

Vannelli showed the board how the Fillmore County local compared with other law enforcement wage and benefit packages in the 10 other counties of southeast Minnesota. He pointed out the need to stay competitive in the marketplace, noting that the county has lost 40 personnel over the last 20 years to surrounding cities.

The board took no action on the contract proposal.


County Auditor Angela Burrs spoke briefly about the redistricting process that will come out of the 2000 census.

Burrs said that data figures will be released by April 1. After the legislature passes a plan, and the Governor signs it, the Secretary of State conveys it to the counties. They in turn send it on to cities and townships.

It is estimated that the legislature will complete redistricting by March 19, 2002, but that timeline could change if there are any unresolved court challenges.

Regional Art Center

Hal Cropp, Executive Director of the Commonweal Theatre, briefed the board about art activities in Lanesboro and its impact on tourism. Commonweal, the Cornucopia Art Center and the city of Lanesboro are looking at developing a Regional Art Center. The city has been awarded $1 million from the state legislature for this purpose. Cropp said that Commonweal is in its thirteenth year of operation and has performed to 17,000 people, 1/3 of whom have come farther than 60 miles from Lanesboro.

By John Torgrimson

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