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Map omission stirs controversy

Fri, May 16th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - City of Rushford Village council members made clear their disappointment with the new county map and its failure to recognize the City of Rushford Village as a city at the county board's May 13 meeting. Commissioner Marc Prestby was absent due to the passing of his mother. The board extended their sympathy to Prestby.

Chairman Randy Dahl, whose district includes the City of Rushford Village, vigorously supported scrapping the deficient map in favor of reprinting a corrected version. The new county map doesn't include a city map on the back along with other Fillmore County cities. Dahl listed the board's options including offering the map for sale "as is," fixing with stickers noting the city's omission and or including a city map, or starting over printing a corrected map.

Commissioner Duane Bakke noted numerous mistakes in the map, especially locations of golf courses, museums, the omission of Eagle Bluff Campground, the fish hatchery, and more. Many of these errors were made by the company contracted to produce the map, Cloud Cartographics, Inc., located in St. Cloud. The tourist attractions that are often located incorrectly were not requested by the county, but added by the company. However, he noted that the purpose of the map is to show rural addressing changes and this map with all its errors does properly show the new names and numbers for the 911 Rural Addressing system.

The mayor of the City of Rushford Village Gordon Johnson remarked that he was disappointed to be here. He said the city includes 33 square miles and is second in tax base value to the county. Johnson urged the board to have the maps reprinted with corrections and inclusion of the city as it should have been in the first place. Councilman Dale Schwanke questioned the process that failed to recognize the omission. City Clerk Judy Graham stressed the need for the map by businesses such as FedEx and the need to have the city streets correctly included.

County Recorder David Kiehne, also on the Rural Addressing Committee, suggested that to do a complete redo could take a year or more. County Engineer John Grindeland insisted that the map "as is" is functional for use in 911 emergencies, which was the purpose of the new map. He urged the board to step back and quantify the errors. A reprint of 8,000 maps could cost up to $4,000. Dahl suggested ordering only a couple of thousand corrected maps which could cost only a couple of thousand. He added that stickers could be placed on a limited number of maps for use while the new maps are in the process of production. Grindeland noted that the cost per map is more when ordered in fewer numbers. Dahl insisted that to his mind the highest cost is releasing a defective product. Bakke remarked that the rural addressing portion is not defective.

Kiehne responded that if inclusion of correct street names in the City of Rushford Village is the concern, all updated streets are not included in the other cities that are on the back of the map. He expects that much of the information printed for the cities is ten years old and does not reflect recent additions. He complained that his department does not have sufficient staff to keep up to date on recent changes in cities. It takes time to update the databases.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud added that information for Spring Valley was submitted with corrections, but Cloud Cartographics inserted errors like locations of golf courses. Grindeland insisted that if the City of Rushford Village was put to scale in a limited space that the street names would be too small to read. Mayor Johnson maintained if the maps aren't correct, they aren't any good. He added, "Either have it right or don't have it at all." He expressed disbelief that they would submit data ten years old. Johnson noted that his city paid their part to have the E-911 rural addressing system implemented. He insisted that EMS services need good mapping.

Amunrud said that data that county staff sent to the printer and what was printed is not the same. He suggested that the map would be better without locations of golf courses, etc. People can rely on local signage to find these attractions. He noted that he was leaning toward having a corrected map printed.

County Assessor Cynthia Blagsvedt suggested that this is a unique situation, meaning the City of Rushford Village. She asked the board to consider placing a sticker on the front recognizing the city and another on the back side of the map referring users to the other side to see location of the city. Bakke said that her idea could be the least expensive option. He expressed a need to analyze the costs and the returns of each of the options before making a decision. County Attorney Kelly Wagner as head of her department said that she wanted to see the numbers before making a commitment. She also wanted to look at the contract that was made with the Cloud Cartographics.

Grindeland noted that every Farm and Home Plat and Directory produced since 1998 has not recognized the City of Rushford Village as a city or included it in the list of cities in the county. Bakke agreed that it has been only given a page as a township.

Commissioner Stafford Hansen recommended that the county use the map already produced. He said that it is better than what we had, is nice looking, and as many as possible should be distributed.

Chairman Dahl directed the staff and department heads to make available all relevant information to be coordinated by County Coordinator Karen Brown and then send it to the Technology Committee (includes GIS) for discussion.

Weight Limit Enforcement

Sheriff Daryl Jensen stated that Fillmore County Law Enforcement is reactive, rather than proactive when it comes to road restriction enforcement. The county does not have portable scales and relies on the state patrol when scales are needed. The county does not have adequate personnel or would it be practical to patrol roads looking for violators. He added that things will go on that we are not aware of. Dahl said that the county's system of reacting is probably the only cost benefit way of doing it. Citizens and other county employees, especially highway maintenance workers, need to be relied on to report possible infractions.

Jensen referred to the recent significant damage to county road 12 in Carimona Township due to over weight loads of cement. He said that a ticket has been sent to the County Attorney for her review. He added that anyone who is doing construction in April and May needs to consider road restrictions for weight. Kelly Wagner would not comment on the possible violation as she was still reviewing it. She did say that according to statute the liability for the road lies with the offender.

Bakke questioned whether more emphasis is needed for enforcement. Enforcement is on a complaint basis now which has worked in this instance. Grindeland said that if the sheriff suspects a vehicle is overloaded, he should pull it over and ask the state patrol to weigh it and not wait for a citizen complaint.

Jensen suggested that his people are not trained in weight enforcement restriction. Amunrud maintained that businesses have to be mindful of less restricted routes and run lighter loads when necessary. He agreed that the county's best policy is to react appropriately to a complaint.

Carimona Township Supervisor Ann O'Connor said that she was the one that voiced the complaint first to Grindeland and then to Jensen. She requested that warning lights be placed to warn drivers of the serious condition of the road. O'Connor said that flags were put up and with another call to the Sheriff's office, flashing lights were set up. She insisted that it was known that overweight trucks were using the road, but that nothing had been done until she took it into her own hands to place a complaint.

Dahl recommended that the county attorney go back 30 days to check the company's weigh tickets and the destinations of the loads. He said that we need to send a message. Wagner said that she will do what the law allows.

Other Business

• Approval was granted for the Sheriff's Department to purchase a 2008 Chevrolet half ton 4 x 4 pickup from Zeimetz Chevrolet for $26,199. The pickup will replace a 2003 Chevrolet Impala. The bid was not the low quote by about $500. Board members voted to go with the slightly higher quote in order to buy locally and to purchase an E-85 compatible vehicle.

• Veterans Services/Emergency Management Director Deborah Teske asked for and received approval to amend the Debris Grant to include additional funding up to $700,000 and to extend the deadline to June 30, 2009. Shirl Boelter said that at this time the criteria has not changed. It is still only applicable to residential properties. Bakke asked about looking into possible use on agricultural land now that an extra $200,000 is available. Teske said that the extra funds are a result of some of the other six counties that had received funding returning unused funds to the state which is now being redistributed. Amunrud said that use of funds to clean up streams should be looked at. Dahl agreed that there is a need in the country for debris removal. Bakke noted that Houston County is using their funds in part on agricultural land.

• Snowmobile contracts and sponsorships with Bluff Valley Riders and Tri-County Trail Blazers were approved. Bakke commented that he wanted to complement them on the maintenance of the trails and to thank land owners that allow the trails to cross their land.

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