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County Board Meeting July 20

Posted: 07/21/2021

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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The Pilgrim Point Park plan, a proclamation thanking county employees, and clean lake water highlighted the county board meeting held July 20, 2021.
 

Facilities and Maintenance

The meeting began with a request by Facilities Director Rodney Naab to hire two employees, one in housekeeping and one in maintenance, to staff the soon to open Administration Building at 822 Douglas Street. Commissioners approved his request.

Auditor/Treasurer Vicki Doehling presented commissioners with a request for property tax late penalty forgiveness from the Alexandria Hotel Group, doing business as Fairfield Inn & Suites. The group owed $7,047.81 in penalty for late payment of the first half property taxes in 2021. The hotel business was severely impacted by COVID-19. Commissioners granted the request.   

Assessor

Assessor Stacy Honkomp asked for approval of assessing contracts with various cities and townships in Douglas County. The assessor’s office renewed 4 year contracts with the cities of Brandon, Carlos, Forada, and Nelson as well as the townships of Brandon, Leaf Valley, Moe and Urness. The county will charge $7.75 per parcel in 2022 and $8.00 per parcel in 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Veterans Services Office

Veterans Service Officer Jacob Turner asked for and was given permission to hire a van driver to replace the person who recently submitted his resignation. Van drivers take veterans to and from medical appointments at VA facilities outside of the county.

Turner asked the board to accept a $400 donation from the Elks Lodge of Alexandria #1685 and a donation of $228.50 from Luke Luedke, owner and operator of Paint the Woods in Miltona. Both donations came with a request to use the funds for veterans in need.

Turner also asked the board to enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs which provides the county with grant funding to be used for outreach to veterans. That outreach is designed to reduce homelessness and reintegrate combat veterans into society.

Public Works

Public Works Director and County Engineer Tim Erickson asked for permission to hire MSA Professional Services to perform bridge inspections in Douglas County. Forty-eight of the county’s 61 bridges are due for inspection in 2021.

Park Superintendent Brad Bonk asked commissioners to approve the plan for Pilgrim Point Park. The plan is the next step in the process to create a park and beach area on Lake Ida. Previously Bonk used a survey and public meeting to gather input from residents. More than 600 people participated which is the most ever.  

Bonk presented commissioners with a very preliminary cost estimate to turn the land into a park and beach area. The figure is $ 1.2 million over many years – half of the cost is for two future bathroom/shelters. Other costs include asphalt parking lot, trash receptacles, security lights, benches, picnic tables and bike racks. Bonk explained the current bathroom has about another ten years of use before it will be replaced with the two new bathrooms/shelters.  

The county must apply for a conditional use permit next and there are plans to hold another public meeting.

Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson and Erickson reviewed two letters received from landowners downstream of the Improvement to County Ditch #17 project. Traditionally money is not spent outside of the established drainage system and the letters were submitted past the project appeal timeline. The board passed a motion to revisit the issues raised when the repair of the northern part of Ditch #17 begins.  

Next Anderson shared a photo showing how 450 feet of the ditch bank on the Main of County Ditch #3 slid into the channel carrying with it sod and woody vegetation which is damming the channel and greatly restricting water flow. Anderson said the cause of the sluff was frost had partially gone out and there was a 4.5 inch rainfall. The cost to clean out loose material, re-slope the ditch bank and re-establish the bench will be between $12,000 and $15,000. The board approved it with the agreement the county will look at redetermining benefits on CD 3 in the near future and hold a public meeting when that redetermination process begins.

Land and Resource Management

Director Dave Rush shared the Planning Advisory Commission’s recommendation for approval of Gracies Addition on the south side of Lake Mary and a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Ida Graves. The owners of Ida Graves plan to add a tasting room and merchandise sale area next to their distillery operation. Ida Graves produces Vodka and Gin. The CUP includes restrictions on the number of events per year, hours of operation and maximum number of guests at events.  The board also approved a CUP for Minnerath Investments LLC to store construction equipment on 27 acres of land adjacent to their existing operations.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management Director Julie Anderson presented for approval and signature the 2021 Emergency Operations Plan. This plan outlines the roles and responsibilities before, during and after an emergency or disaster.

County Board

Chairman Jerry Rapp asked that the board appoint an alternate member to the Sauk River Watershed (One Watershed One Plan) Committee. The board appointed Commissioner Tim Kalina to attend if Rapp is unable to.

The board approved a proclamation designating July 27, 2021, as County Staff Appreciation Day. You can read the entire proclamation by clicking on documents associated with this article.

Chairman Rapp had also asked the board to discuss what he calls using poison to eliminate weeds in Douglas County lakes. The county, various lake associations, and homeowners are allowed to apply for permits to treat larger areas with an aquatic herbicide called 2-4-D. Rapp expressed that he is leery about this practice. “I don’t know how we can use a chemical and then require buffer zones and septic system inspections,” he said. “Can we use machines rather than outright poison to kill weeds in the lakes?” he asked.

The county used 2-4-D twice this year to treat excessive weeds in the swimming area of the beach at Lake Brophy County Park. Commissioners Meyer and Larson also asked if there was a more organic herbicide available.  The board, Land and Resource Director Dave Rush and Park Superintendent Brad Bonk, discussed using a mechanical method to remove weeds in the future. Bonk said he would do some research prior to weed removal at the lake next spring.


Horizon Public Health

Up next on the agenda was Horizon Public Health (HPH) Administrator Ann Stehn. She discussed a brief history of when and why five counties, including Douglas, decided to work together on public health. She then showed commissioners and those in attendance how to access the 2020 annual report which is an interactive, highly visual online report filled with information on the health of those living in the Horizon Public Health counties as well as the work being done by HPH to improve health and well-being of our residents. To view this annual report click https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/419d763c7b714abaa66bec4570ac7b09

Click here to view the document associated with this news item.

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