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What will 2012 bring to county residents?

Area leaders say many projects are under way

January 1, 2012
by Sam Jefson, Register Staff Writer
Kathy Bailey

City Administrator of

Blue Earth

Blue Earth will be busy in 2012 finishing and starting several projects.

At the waste water plant, the city will replace digester lids. This was a needed project that was identified during the 2010 waste water plant upgrade.

The lift stations on Highway 169 and Valley Highlands will see completion in the spring of 2012 and the North Main Street sanitary sewer extension will see five businesses and three homes connected to the sewer system.

New projects will include a street and infrastructure reconstruction of nine blocks, including Gorman Street from Seventh to 14th streets and 12th Street from Galbraith to Rice streets.

The Blue Earth Airport will see a reconstruction of the paved runway. The 2011 airport project to construct the taxiway will now provide a runway during the reconstruction.

The Faribault County Fire Departments will see radio upgrades thanks to a FEMA grant that will provide for $832,343 in FEMA Fire Fighters Grant funds. This leaves all of the departments to share in the remaining $43,807 of matching funds. This will bring our departments into compliance with the new radio frequency requirements at a very low cost. This project was a cooperative project between all of the fire departments, the City of Blue Earth and the Faribault County Sheriff’s Department.

A DNR Parks Grant was obtained to provide matching funds for a shelter house at Steinberg Park and the Council has set aside funding for a shelter in Putnam Park.

Planning is moving forward with MnDOT on the Highway 169 reconstruction project slated to start in the spring of 2013.

The city has improved its financial position by refinancing many of its bonds at a lower interest rate.

“The past couple of years have seen many of our Tax Increment Financing projects through the Economic Development Authority close,” Bailey says. “This allowed the council to lower the levy from 2011 by 6 percent.”

“I am looking forward to an improved economy in 2012,” Bailey says. “Several of the area employers are hiring and participating in training programs to build skills of the employable in the area.”



Jerry Jensen

Superintendent of United South Central Schools

Jerry Jensen wants the USC School District to continue to provide a safe and nurturing environment for students during the 2012 school year.

The school district plans on continuing with a five-year plan instituted during the 2009-2010 school year to ensure academic achievement for future generations. “We are focused on integrating technology in the classroom,” Jensen says. “By the end of this year we hope to install interactive white boards in all of our classrooms.”

Another priority for Jensen and the school board will be dealing with an aging facility housing numerous infrastructure concerns.

“The community is going to have to make decisions on remodeling the current school or replacing it with a new one,” Jensen says. “A bond issue will be brought before the community for a vote in August.”



Dale Brandsoy

Superintendent of

Blue Earth Area Schools

Blue Earth Area Schools will continue to pursue excellence for all students during 2012.

“We want to set up all kids for success,” Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says. “This is done by making a connection between teachers and students.”

The BEA School District will have a number of notable projects beginning this year.

Teachers will institute the Quality Compensation Program (Q Comp), starting next fall. The system includes performance based pay, alternative teacher salary structures and additional teacher benefits.

Also in 2012, the School Board will conduct a search for a new superintendent. If all goes according to plan, a candidate will be hired in March and will take over job responsibilities July 1.

Finally, a new facilities upgrade will start at the K-8 Blue Earth site, improving air quality in the school.



Tom Warmka

Chairman of

Faribault County

Board of Commissioners

In 2012, Commissioner Tom Warmka would like to see more stability from the State Legislature.

“I would like the counties, cities and schools to have the opportunity to stick to their budgets,” Warmka says. “After we certify the budget, we are locked in and if funding changes occur, it is bad for the county and really bad for cities and school boards.”

The second thing Commissioner Warmka wants to work on in 2012 is a county-wide approach regarding economic development.

“We are too small to go at it alone,” Warmka says. “If we are going to stick around, every city needs to work together.”

Finally, Commissioner Warmka says he and his fellow commissioners want to continue to work hard for all citizens of the county.

“I want Faribault County to be a decent place for people to live and raise their children,” Warmka says. “I think we have that, and I want to continue that.”



Austin Bleess

City Administrator of Winnebago

Two projects will highlight the year for Winnebago – a First Avenue SE reconstruction and a continued focus on economic development.

“We want to work on business retention and expansion,” City Administrator Austin Bleess says. “This includes street scaping and a possible spec building.”

Throughout the year, the city also plans on maintaining its strong online presence.

Winnebago utilizes the social media outlets of Twitter and Facebook almost daily to get information out to citizens.

Another online feature promoted by the city is citizen’s ability to pay bills.

“There are no convenience fees now,” Bleess says. “It’s easy for them and us.”

Residents can pay their utility bills, buy pool passes and purchase dog and cat licenses online.

Later in 2012, Winnebago plans on continuing extended summer hours. From mid-May to September, city hall will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“The summer hours were a great success last year,” Bleess says. “A lot of people took advantage of the extra hours.”

Jeremy Germann

City Administrator of

Wells

Wells is gearing up to make infrastructure a priority in 2012.

City Administrator Jeremy Germann says the city plans on unveiling a five year plan for street repairs. This year, that will include four overlays and one reconstruction. “This will give residents an opportunity to know years in advance about possible projects impacting them,” Germann says. “It’s very important to know assessments could be coming so residents can be prepared.”

The city will once again face nearly a quarter million dollars of Local Government Aid (LGA) cuts in 2012, but it is Germann’s hope to continue to provide services with only a small raise in taxes.

Article Photos

Kathy Bailey

 
 

 

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