Carter Grupp and Chris Koneche, Finley Engineering Company Inc., and Nicole Schulte, Spring Grove Communications, requested support for their Border-to-Border broadband application at the board’s November 7 meeting.
They want to apply for state and federal assistance for an area with low density passings (2.4 per mile), including 216 farms, 29 businesses, and 295 households. The two project areas include Spring Valley and North Chester. The areas are eligible for grants as they are unserved or underserved.
Koneche said they would like to see a cash match, other financing, or a no interest or low interest loan.
Grupp’s request included a letter of support, a financial contribution, and a permanent easement by the Spring Valley Highway Shop. This is the first time there has been a low-density grant program available.
County Administrator Bobbie Hillery noted County Engineer Ron Gregg recommended the easement site behind the shop.
A letter in support of the application was approved. Hillery said the county has provided a $75,000 loan with a three-year pay back on other past projects. The board approved a $75,000 no interest loan. Commissioner Mitch Lentz offered to go
to township boards with Grupp to ask for their support.
A permanent easement on property owned by Fillmore County by the Spring Valley Highway Shop was approved.
Koneche estimated construction could start in 2025 and be completed by mid 2026. Commissioner Duane Bakke praised them for moving beyond their area.
Other Business in Brief
• County Attorney Brett Corson was honored for his work with the Veterans Court. Third District Judge and Veterans Court Judge Ross Leuning commended Corson for his efforts while working with the Veterans Court. He read a certificate honoring Lieutenant Colonel Brett Corson, U.S. Army Reserve.
Third Judicial District Judge and Veterans Court Judge Joe Chase said Leuning worked on the west side, and he worked on the east side with Corson. Chase said Corson served as a prosecutor and with that perspective he kept me honest.
“Corson’s voice kept us accountable,” Chase explained. “We see these guys every two weeks; we may get too trusting and forgiving.”
Corson will be stepping down from the team as the Veterans Court is being moved to Rochester. Chase thanked the county board and the county for the provision of a home for the court in Fillmore County.
Corson stated, “I have learned a lot; it has been an honor.”
• A cooperative access agreement was approved and entered into between the state of Minnesota and Fillmore County for work on the Forestville Bridge (CR 118). The old bridge is to be lifted and set on DNR property for temporary storage outside of the right of way. When the bridge is rehabilitated for pedestrian and recreational trail use, it is to be returned to the location over the river. Gregg said the current deteriorated condition of the bridge has become a liability for the county. The intent is for the DNR to take over ownership once the bridge is rehabilitated. State funding toward the project will not exceed $51,000. Gregg said the move will cost about $149,000. The bridge could be moved as early as next week.
• Approval was granted for Brenda Pohlman to apply for a scholarship to the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Prep Summit 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. With the scholarship all travel will be paid in full, and she will serve on a panel for rural public health emergency preparedness.
• The resignation of Alexandra Meldahl, social worker, effective November 10, was approved after two years of service. Advertisement for a replacement social worker was approved.
• John Peterson was hired as a replacement facilities maintenance worker, effective November 27.
• An agreement with SWCD for temporary office space was approved. The lease rental payments to the county will be $1,700 monthly. The county attorney drafted the agreement. The SWCD space will be in the Fillmore County Office building near the Veterans Office.
• Payment of Paybook #6 for the jail project in the amount of $103,783.07 to Construction Manager, Contegrity Group, was approved.
• Departmental Cash classification for 2023 was approved for the Recorder and the Auditor/Treasurer.
• Approval was granted for an Ag Intern agreement for University of Minnesota Extension contact. Fillmore County budgeted amount to support the Intern position is $7,526.
• The board next meets on November 14.