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Soil, Water gets $450K, employee

By Staff | Mar 7, 2010

John Meyer

Michelle Stindtman of the Faribault County Soil and Water District had several pieces of good news to tell the County Board at last Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

First, she told the board that her office has received $450,000 in grants and loans from the State of Minnesota.

Second, she introduced her newest employee, John Meyer, to the commissioners.

Meyer is the newly hired resource conservation technician, a position made possible because of the grant money.

The county received $250,000 in grants, and $200,000 in loan monies from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

“The grant money comes from the Clean Water Partnership funding,” Stindtman says. “The loan money comes from the State Revolving Loan fund.”

The total funds are to be used for projects dealing with reducing sediments in the East Branch of the Blue Earth River.

Stindtman says the county has been tapping into the revolving loan fund since 1995.

“We have loaned out over $5 million to local landowners in Faribault County since we started in 1995,” she says.

Because the county has been using the state revolving loan fund, they were put on the top of the list when it came to applying for grants.

Stindtman told the County Board that she put in this recent application last October.

With the money, they will be able to do comprehensive and worthwhile projects over the next three years, she says. Part of the money will be used to fund Meyer’s position as resource conservation technician.

“John will be spearheading this work, although all of us will be involved,” Stindtman says. “It is a pilot program for the East Branch River area, but then we will take it county-wide.”

The Soil and Water Conservation office recently took over many of the duties which were previously performed by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Meyer, a resident of Kiester, will be involved in doing some of that work, particularly drainage and other ag-related issues.

Stindtman was quick to point out that although the monies involved came from the MPCA, they are not for regulatory issues.

“The money gets loaned to landowners for things such as minimum tillage, spreading of ag waste and some structural projects,” she says.

“I’m excited about it,” she adds. “It is a great opportunity for us to work with landowners and put good soil and water conservation practices into place in the county.”

The county will have to add approximately 25 percent of the cost of projects, but this can be done with ‘in-kind’ work, such as educational seminars or hosting landowner meetings, Stindtman says.

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

– Discussed hiring a scrapping business to clear out items in the former jail building, so it can be used for storage for the county. Items such as jail doors, beds, etc., would have to be cut with a torch to be removed.

Several commissioners say they would be uncomfortable not knowing what was going to be taken and what should stay.

“I have dealt with scrappers in the past,” Commissioner Tom Loveall says. “You want to make sure they know what they can take.”

The commissioners tabled hiring a scrapping business at this time, and decided to do a walk through of the old jail on Tuesday, March 9 before doing so.

– Agreed to allow Central Services Director Brenda Ripley to conduct an online auction of the excess county items – including those from the former jail, such as desks, computers, etc.

Ripley told the board she would use the same state-run online auction service the sheriff’s department uses to sell old squad cars.

– Agreed to send a letter of concern to local legislators concerning the governor’s plan to cut the funding for the Sentenced to Serve (STS) program.

Billeye Rabbe of the Martin-Faribault Counties recycling program, says she has used the STS workers for many of her projects.

Commissioners agreed, saying several small towns in the county use STS to bolster their public works and parks departments.