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County to acquire federal grant for CSAH 1

Fri, Apr 12th, 2013
Posted in All Government

By Karen Reisner

County Engineer Ronald Gregg acknowledged at the county board’s April 9 meeting that he was excited to announce that an application for a federal grant was successful.

Future plans for needed work on CSAH 1 have threatened to eat up the county’s road budget. This procurement of a federal grant will help ease that pressure. Gregg said the $2.2 million 2017 grant is to be used on the northern most five miles of CSAH 1, which includes two bridges. The section is north of CSAH 4 to the Olmsted County line. The grant will pay for 71 percent of the estimated cost and the rest will be paid for with state aid. The stretch will undergo shoulder widening which is considered reconstruction.

Gregg noted Olmsted County will improve the half mile north of the Fillmore County line to Highway 30. The federal grant money has to be used from July 2017 to July 2018.

The five miles south of CASH 4 to Spring Valley is not included in the grant. There are three bridges in this section. The plan for this section includes a shoulder widening project about three miles north of Spring Valley.

The board was pleased with Gregg’s successful effort to get the federal grant funds.

Sheriff Department and Jail Options

•Sheriff Daryl Jensen updated the board on a variety of things including ARMER. He was asked how much has been spent so far on the communication system. Jensen estimated nearly $800,000 has been spent, with only about $28,000 coming from tax levy money. The bulk of the funding has been from 911 money and grants. These figures do not include narrowbanding expenses.

Commissioner Duane Bakke asked how much more was needed. Jensen explained that the radios they have acquired have been issued for EMS. The only piece left is radios for the fire departments. He said there is no urgency for this as they can continue to operate with the equipment they have, adding part of the responsibility in his opinion to upgrade communications for the fire departments should fall on the cities.

Jensen said there is more training to be completed. Enhancement of the signal in some communities may be necessary so communications can be heard inside of a building. Jensen credited Emergency Management/Jail Administrator Kevin Beck for doing a fantastic job.

•Jensen noted the average population at the county jail is 12 to 13, which is down from three years ago. The state suggests the maximum population should be 18. The facility has had a population of up to 24.

The sheriff continued to express strong support for the Sentence to Serve (STS) program. The program is funded by the county which has a contract with DNR. The county now houses up to 3 state inmates who participate in the STS program through the Institution/Community Work Crew (ICWC) program. The state pays $55 per day per inmate. The county pays STS workers $1 to $1.50 per hour for their work.

Jensen said he would like to expand the program, having up to five inmates from the state. The state inmates guarantee having a crew for STS and the state per diem pays for the cost of the program. Inmates have to be in their last 6 to 18 months of their sentence, are not a disciplinary problem, and are not predatory offenders to qualify for the program. The inmates after 6 months in the program have a unique release, to a half way house.

The STS workers do a lot of DNR projects and have worked in cities, like the Rushford flood clean-up and at the Center for the Arts. Jensen maintained that STS “is a good program,” adding “we have had good inmates that work very hard and it is a good fit for us.”

•The sheriff’s office has under gone staff turnovers due to retirements and the installation of new equipment over the last year which has necessitated more training. Changes being made for the next generation 911 and ARMER, to bring the dispatch center into compliance with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

•During the 2012 jail inspection, two issues were critical. There isn’t a jail nurse and Fillmore County has the second oldest jail in Minnesota. Options for a jail nurse were discussed and will be discussed further at a Community Services meeting.

The jail was built in 1968. Jensen said they can’t replicate things because of its age. He said they have four options. They could do nothing, which is not an option any more. They can remodel, build new, or go without a jail. Going without a jail is not a reasonable option because they are not close enough to Rochester, Caledonia, or Austin.

Bakke said they first have to determine the costs of going forward. Jensen said they should visit jails, discuss what they learn from the visits, then focus on remodel or new, and determine the cost to see if it is affordable.

Other Business In Brief

•Five Olmsted County Commissioners traveled to Preston and met with the Fillmore County Board to discuss several issues including Destination Medical Center, DFO Corrections, the proposed legislation for an aggregate tax, and silica sand. The Olmsted County Board had unanimously passed a resolution in favor of the DMC concept which could provide 30,000 to 35,000 jobs.

Jim Bier said Mayo Clinic is a proven, good, steady employer and supports the community. Part of the DMC expansion plan is to capture some of the increased income and property tax sent to the state to pay for additional infrastructure projects in Rochester. They offered to send a copy of the their resolution to the Fillmore Board.

Bakke was concerned that there is a misunderstanding of the aggregate tax at the state legislature and suggested they work to make it more clear. Bier said Olmsted is waiting to see what comes out of this session of the legislature concerning silica sand.

•Three more citizens addressed the board during the Citizen Input portion to encourage the board to require an EIS for the Rein Quarry expansion. Dale Forster, Lanesboro, asked the board to request the EQB to do an EIS. Roy House, Pilot Mound Township, insisted this “is the time to get things right.” Emily Spende, Lanesboro, read a letter on behalf of the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce in support of the MPCA recommendation made in a March 22, 2013 letter to Fillmore County Zoning. It was recommended in the letter that the Minnesota Sands, LLC projects and the Rein Quarry expansion be evaluated by the same Environmental Impact Statement, due to the cumulative effects of the projects.

Bakke said the Rein Quarry EAW will be on the April 23 agenda.

•Robert Bjorklund, Bjorklund Compensation Consulting, reviewed a salary survey report for county employees. This is the first such survey completed for the county since 2006. He recommended adjustments to bring salaries within market rate and the review of three or four positions which have salaries significantly lower than the market.

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