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County board will take on aeration

By Staff | Jan 10, 2009

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners for 2009 are pictured above. Front row, left to right are Tom Loveall and Butch Erichsrud. Back row, left to right, Bill Groskreutz, John Roper and Tom Warmka.

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners reversed a decision made at a meeting last month, and decided to take over an aeration system on Rice Lake.

Several members of the Wells Sportsmans Club attended the meeting, asking the commissioners to reconsider their earlier vote to not become the permit holder for the aeration system.

Dean Kaufmann of the Wells group, said they got the aeration going 10 years ago, applying for the permit each year, paying for the insurance cost and putting up warning signs.

“The aeration benefits the whole county, and not just our rifle (sportsmans) club,” Kaufman told the board. “We are willing to still do the work, but we want the county to hold the permit.”

The reason for the county to get involved concerns the cost of insurance. There would be no increase in premium to the county if they take it over, while the club pays over $600 a year in premiums.

Commissioner Butch Erichsrud repeated his concerns of the risk exposure to the county.

“I have a real fear on this,” he said. “If the signs blow down and someone goes through the ice, we will be responsible.”

Members of the sportsmans club pointed out that there are permanent signs in place at access points, and that they check the other signs on the ice at least once a week.

Commissioner Tom Warmka agreed there was an exposure to risk for the county, but was willing to vote for the measure since Kaufman was willing to be listed on the permit as the person in charge of operating the system.

The motion by Commissioner Bill Groskreutz was to rescind the previous motion and have the county become the permit holder for the aeration system. He added that the county sheriff’s office would check if the safety signs were in place.

The motion passed unanimously.

Kaufman said the sportsmans club had put a lot of effort into both Rice Lake and Walnut Lake.

“We raised money, killed down the lake, and re-stocked it,” he says, adding it was done with help from the DNR.

“They put 250,000 walleye fry in there,” Kaufman said. “There really is good fishing in the lake.”

Don Heise of Easton agreed.

“It is a shallow lake, and there is not much boat traffic on it,” he said. “But there is a lot of fishing from the dock and from shore.”

Heise added that there are always permanent warning signs at entry points to lakes which have aeration systems.

“The aeration systems are listed in the paper and in the fishing handbook given out by the DNR,” Heise says. “It is very well publicized.”

Kaufmann added that the DNR has never had a lawsuit over an aeration system.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners:

– Reviewed a new set of water softener specs and authorized calling for new quotes.

– Approved the hiring of five persons (one male and four females) to fill the jailer position at the new law enforcement center. There had been 92 applicants.

– Voted to continue the contract with Sentenced to Serve, which will cost the county $75,989 over two years. The program had 4,821 hours of work last year, at an estimated market value of $58,000.

– Authorized five change orders to the work at the new law enforcement center, which totalled $21,000. The amount included $11,000 for additional grade and roadway work, $7,468 for an additional work sink and eye wash station, and $1,800 for adding six bunks.

Construction manager Mike Kearns told the board that the cost of the change orders comes under the 3-percent contingency funds. Kearns said they have used about half of the contingency funds at this time.

– Elected Tom Loveall as board chairman, and Bill Groskreutz as vice-chair, for 2009. John Roper was sworn in as a new commissioner, and Groskreutz and Warmka were sworn in as re-elected commissioners, in a ceremony held before the regular meeting.