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Weight limits enforced on County Roads

Fri, May 9th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - County Engineer John Grindeland fielded questions from board members at the May 6 meeting. A citizen called in Friday, May 2, to report an abuse of weight restrictions on a county gravel road. The county sheriff was notified and a deputy was sent out. Two vehicles hauling cement were stopped and the deputy was informed that there were five more to come.

Grindeland explained that the county does not issue over weight permits. The sheriff can go back thirty days and check for other over weight loads that the cement company may have delivered on restricted roads. Grindeland said that he understood that the trucks were hauling 10 yards of cement when restrictions would only allow them to haul 3 yards to stay legal. He said that the cement company was asked to hire a contractor to put the road back in condition or the county will have to do it and bill the cement company.

Grindeland stressed that in order to have useful enforcement, the enforcement has to go all the way through the courts. Chairman Randy Dahl maintained that the county doesn't have the resources to patrol every gravel road. In this case, there was a complaint and the violators were caught. The complainant noted that the trucks had been running for two or three days. The county engineer determines when county road restrictions are to be lifted and places a notice in the official paper.

• Grindeland asked for and received approval of the low bid to purchase a snow plow with an underbelly blade, wing, and salt brine tank. The vehicle being replaced was totaled last winter with an insurance settlement of $26,000 plus. He suggested that the underbelly blade and the brine tank additions are new and the county will be testing their effectiveness with this vehicle.

• Dahl questioned Grindeland about the omission of Rushford Village on the front of the new county maps. Grindeland said that all of the cities were asked to verify their city boundaries and streets and that not all of them responded. Commissioner Duane Bakke retorted that Rushford Village can't be both a city and a township. He added that three different type of maps are sold in the county including the road map, SWCD map and the Farm and Home booklet. Dahl wants to delay the release of the maps giving him time to check with the people in Rushford Village to see if maybe a sticker addition on front recognizing the city would be appropriate. Commissioner Marc Prestby insisted that no map is going to be perfect. Grindeland added that the information is on the old county maps and that there are still thousands available.

The final payment for the production of about 8,000 maps was approved.

• Grindeland offered a "draft" of a CDL driver discipline policy modeled after Winona County's policy. Bakke added that a policy needs to be in place before there is an incident. At issue are violations of CDL drivers employed by the highway department even while driving their private vehicles on their own time.

Wind Energy Systems

Zoning Administrator Norman Craig discussed with the board the possible need for the county to regulate conversion systems up to 25 megawatts which is allowed by the state. He noted that Lion County is regulating these systems and six other counties are in the process. Bakke was concerned about damage to county roads and what oversight it has. The concern was for the large amount of cement needed for the base of the structures. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud commented that they don't need to take over regulatory duties of the state.

Craig added that there are two companies now in Fillmore County that are big enough that they will be regulated by the state. Craig said that he would check with Lion County and get more clarification as to why they saw a need for the additional layer of regulation.

Other Business

• In a joint Board of Health teleconference with Houston County both counties agreed to enter into the 2008-2009 Safe Communities grant agreement. The grant of about $25,000 will be split between the counties and used in five driving areas with an emphasis on proper car seat and seat belt use.

• Social Service Director Thomas Boyd discussed the impact of the slowing economy and rising prices for food and energy on the working poor. He said that his department is seeing a lot of people that they normally wouldn't see. The number of people needing Medical Assistance and food stamps (federal programs administered by the county) is increasing, but the grants are the same. Boyd insisted, "Where there are jobs, people will work."

• The board voted to enter into an agreement with the National Association of Counties (NACo) for a county wide prescription drug discount program. County Coordinator Karen Brown noted that the agreement costs the county nothing and is available to all residents of Fillmore County regardless of income. She said that all pharmacies in the county are participating.

It will take about two months for the cards needed for the discount to be available. The cards are free and can be used any time the prescription is not covered by insurance. The cards may also be used for a discount on pet prescriptions. Prestby noted that the cards will be especially helpful for those without insurance. The average savings will be about 20%. Caremark Rx, Inc., a pharmaceutical service company, administers the program. They negotiate for the lower prices with retail pharmacies.

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