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County Board receives a special flag

By Staff | Oct 9, 2016

The Veterans Service Office presented a flag to the County Board last Tuesday. Left to right are: Jenna Schmidtke (Veterans Services secretary), Tom Warmka (board chairman), Dave Hanson (Veterans Service Officer) and Ryan Bromeland (assistant Veterans Services Officer).

There was a new decoration in the Faribault County Board of Commissioners room on Tuesday.

A record-breaking one.

Visiting this week’s commissioners meeting to introduce two new members of his staff, Veterans Services Officer Dave Hanson presented the County Board with a token of appreciation for their support of his program a panel of WCCO-TV’s “More Than Names” flag, a Guinness World Record honoree.

Created to showcase “gratitude and support for our military members, veterans and their families,” the flag took 18 hours to fold, measured 102 by 76 feet and featured 120,288 separate signatures the most ever recorded on a single flag before being split up and distributed to veteran services across the country.

“The entire flag was actually displayed at Xcel Energy Center at the Wild game last November before Veteran’s Day,” Hanson said, offering an encased panel of the flag to the board. “We want to present this, which is panel No. 69 of 323, to you to thank you for your support.”

That support continued as Hanson introduced the newest members of the county’s Veterans Services office, secretary Jenna Schmidtke and assistant officer Ryan Bromeland.

“I’m glad to see we have three combat veterans working in the office now,” commissioner Tom Warmka said. “Now that we’ve got the A-team, we can start to be the model for the whole state.”

Part of being a good model for other veterans services operations is implementing effective programs for the area veterans, of course, and Hanson said the department’s new hires were centered on next-generation growth.

“I told them, ‘Let your efforts be louder than your excuses,'” he said, complimenting his new colleagues’ work ethics. “We don’t want a building full of ‘what could’ve been.’ We want to outreach and get in the community.”

One of the first ways the revamped staff plans to do just that, according to Bromeland, is a program called “Operation:?Send A Smile,” which local schools have agreed to support.

“It’s a way to have children K-5 make cards for the veterans that are overseas right now,” he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the County Board also:

Heard updates on local construction from county engineer Mark Daly.

In advance of Blue Earth’s Complete Street Fall Festival, contractors hope to have all concrete work done on Main Street by Oct. 14.

“The sidewalks are complete, and they’re paving parking lanes this week,” Daly said. “The pavers look good, too.”

Things are not quite as expeditious on North Main Street in town, where the Blue Earth River below the bridge was “up 10 feet” because of recent rain.

“The contractor still has a completion date of Dec. 3,” Daly said, “and we’ve got about two-and-a-half to three weeks to get a slab poured on the bridge.”

But if asphalt is not put down on the slab by the end of October, Daly said the project could run into cooler temperatures and potential delays. For the sake of accelerating work on the North Main bridge, usage of a cofferdam a temporary enclosure meant to help pump out water or sustain work below the waterline might be on the docket.

County State-Aid Highway 18 is another area affected by recent weather, as Daly said the completion date for work on that road has been extended to Oct. 31.

“And with more rain, that might not finish this year,” he said. “We ran into a 380-foot-long section of road that couldn’t be dried out, so we’ve had some problems there.”

A change order to the tune of between $4,000 and $5,000 might be necessary for that issue to be ironed out, Daly informed the board.

Meanwhile, in Elmore’s Woods Lake Park, Daly said additional funds were obtained for work on a well in the campground.

“The county’s portion for the construction would be $10,194.28,” he said, “and a Minnesota Department of Health grant gives us $9,570.85, but the grant is also up to $10,000 in case we need extra.”

Approved recommendations for security upgrades by Bob Mickelson, of American Integrated Security Group (AISG).

“AISG, our security vendor, has a modification to make due to the type of racking system at the sheriff’s office,” said Central Services director Dawn Fellows, accompanied by Mickelson.

The modification, along with a planned installation of a ventilation fan in the IT room of the sheriff’s office, equated to a change order of $2,000.35 in equipment costs.

Mickelson also informed the board that security work on the courthouse annex “is very close to being wrapped up,” and plans are underway for security improvements at the Central Services department as well.

Gave county auditor John Thompson permission to approve the Office of Justice Programs grant that would fund the new victims services position under county attorney Troy Timmerman.

Fellows said that at least 20 applications were received for the position, and Timmerman anticipated between four and five interviews occurring toward the end of the week.

Approved updates to the county’s data privacy policy, as presented by Timmerman.

“Some of the updates are borrowed right from other counties,” Timmerman said, “and others were adjusted here.”

The policy, which includes sections on data security breach protocol, was updated with a unanimous vote from the board.

Motioned to name First Bank Blue Earth, Wells Fargo, First Financial Bank of Winnebago, Peoples State Bank of Wells and State Bank of Easton as depositories of Faribault County funds for a period of one year.

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz suggested that Wells Fargo be removed from the list in the wake of the bank’s recent nationwide ties to improper sales practices.

“Is it good for us to put our stamp of approval on them?” he asked.

An amendment to leave Wells Fargo off the list drew support from fellow commissioner John Roper.

But a 3-2 vote kept the original motion intact, making Wells Fargo one of the county’s depositories until next year.

“I see what you’re saying,” commissioner Tom Loveall said in response to Groskreutz, “But I’m just not there yet, and these are local people we’re dealing with here. If something changes, this is only for one year.”