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Hunt gives damage report to board

Sun, Jun 18th, 2000
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Monday, June 19, 2000

The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners listened to updated reports on flood damage in the county from the emergency management coordinator Larry Hunt and county engineer Steve Voigt at last Tuesdays meeting of the board.

With most local government units having reported in, Hunt presented the board with a list of estimated property damage caused by the 100 year flood which occurred on May 31, and June 1. The list, sorted by city and township, indicates that Spring Valley suffered the greatest city damage, with estimated home, business and infrastructure losses totaling $746,420.

Overall, the countys total estimated losses for cities and townships totaled $4,366,842. Hunts report showed that the bulk of the damage occurred to the infrastructure: roads, bridges and dikes. Repairing road washouts in the river valley and replacing gravel will attribute significantly to the costs. Infrastructure to the townships totaled over $1.7 million.

A federal emergency management assessment team has arrived in the county and the outcome of their investigation will determine whether the county receives federal dollar assistance to repair the damage. It is hoped in Fillmore county, that in combination with Houston countys damage estimate of $3,118,219, the Root River area will qualify for the federal emergency assistance.

Commissioner Duane Bakke inquired of Hunt whether federal flood assistance funds would be available to farmers for flood debris cleanup in fields. Some bottom land fields north of Lanesboro are now covered with deposits of sand several feet thick. Hunt replied that farmers would have to go through the local FSA office in Preston for assistance information.

The new county engineer, Steve Voigt, was barely on the job for a month when the flood occurred. Voigt reported to the board that the county highway department has spent most of its time since the flood hauling gravel. He estimates that the total flood damage expense to the county roads may run $750,000, with $200,000 alone in gravel expense.

Debris cleanup and ditch cleaning has yet to begin on county roads. Voigt anticipates long man-hours at the 25 to 30 debris cleanup sites. In Whalan, a large cottonwood tree still stands upright against the countys bridge in the middle of the river, posing as a testimony to the floods fury.

Zoning Administrator Norm Craig was back before the board this week with corrected resolutions for conditional use permits which the board had approved at its previous meeting. It seems that the permit resolutions previously presented for approval on three quarries and one sand pit operated by Milestone Materials (also known as Mathy Construction) of Onalaska, Wisconsin, had failed to contain the conditions which the planning commission had required for approval at its May 25 meeting.

Commissioner Bakke, who is also a member of the planning commission, had noticed the absence of the conditions at the board meeting on June 6, and instigated the return of Craig to the board with corrected resolutions.

"This is the first time in fifteen years Ive had to come back to the board on something already approved," stated Craig as he passed out corrected copies. The missing conditions were specific to quarries as follows: Section 36 Jordan Township, dust control "to the satisfaction of the local road authority;" Section 3 Fountain Township, setback of quarry activity 120 feet from the township road and from County 8; Section 26 Fillmore Township, dust control as in Jordan Township; and a sand pit in Section 19 of Spring Valley Township, dust control on road access and better con-trol of rock and soil piles on site.

After leading the motions to rescind and replace the resolutions adopted on June 6, commissioner Bakke made note to Craig that perhaps the county should be recording the planning commission public hearings as it did in the past. To this, commissioner Bicknese added that Craig should think about using the courtroom for large public hearings and add microphones as it is difficult to hear the planning commission when so many people attend. "Hopefully, we wont have so many people at the next public hearing," replied Craig as he left the meeting.

Sheriff Jim Connolly reported to the board on the status of the regional jail study, in which Fillmore County is a member of a joint powers board with Houston, Winona, and Wabasha counties. It appears there will not be matching funds for the building of a regional jail facility and the Sheriff recommended that Fillmore County withdraw from the joint powers board. He advised reassessing the countys own jail needs and possibly discussing joint needs with Houston county. On a motion by Bakke, the board decided to "decline to participate" in the joint powers board.

The Sheriff also requested and received board permission to advertise for an additional officer in the department.

In other business, the board approved hiring Michael Frauenkron as the new feedlot officer at Grade 9, Step 3. Frauenkron comes to Fillmore County from Houston County and will be responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the countys feedlot ordinance.

Before adjournment, the board held a rather lengthy discussion on how to handle inter-departmental billings, especially when one department objects to the others bill.

Recycling coordinator Sandra Benson held a roadside dump clean-up in 1998 at which she requested one highway truck to haul material away. She received seven trucks, though she could not utilize all efficiently, and received a billing from the county highway department for $2900. Disputing the extra trucks, the bill was paid (really just an inter-departmental transfer of funds) for only $1800. The highway department has sent past due notices to Bensons office and she was now asking the board for relief. In a motion by commissioner Underbakke, the remaining "unpaid" debt was forgiven.

Due to the rapid approach of the noon hour, further discussion on the Bjorkland pay plan was postponed to the next meeting.

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