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Three Sisters for $3

By Staff | Oct 23, 2016

The price was right at Tuesday’s Faribault County Board of Commissioners meeting, as long-discussed plans for the city of Blue Earth to potentially take possession of the county’s unused “Three Sisters” buildings came to fruition.

It was in September, nearly two months after the county had taken ownership of Blue Earth’s neighboring trio of infamous Main Street buildings, that city administrator Tim Ibisch and Faribault County Development Corporation’s Tim Clawson oversaw city council discussion of buying the properties.

And on Tuesday, accompanied by Ibisch and speaking on behalf of Blue Earth’s Economic Development Authority, Clawson turned those discussions into reality, warranting a motion by commissioner Greg Young to sell each parcel for a “legal fee of $1 and turn the buildings over to the city as soon as possible.”

Questions remain in regards to leftover property inside the buildings, and Clawson said the goal is to “get the junk out,” potentially through an auction, and prep the Three Sisters for what both the city and county hope is future local business.

There was no question, however, about a transfer of the properties as they are now something that must still be accepted through a Blue Earth City Council vote.

“We’re very pleased that you’re being proactive,” commissioner Tom Warmka told Ibisch and Clawson, before calling a vote that unanimously favored Young’s motion.

Warmka added that, in addition to transferring the ownership of the properties, the county would look into putting its recycling program and/or manpower from the Sentencing to Serve (STS) initiative at the disposal of the city.

Either of those things, Clawson and Ibisch agreed, would help Blue Earth take steps in transforming the downtown buildings from vacant storage area to a restored piece of a newly remodeled Main Street.

“At this time, our intention is to utilize them,” Ibisch said. “We don’t want to have to tear these down if we don’t have to.”

And, for now, thanks to the county’s price of $3, that does not seem to be a concern.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also:

Approved county auditor John Thompson’s request to obtain quotes for two demolitions in Elmore, as well as authorization of a preliminary study for a pair of additional demolitions in the city of Winnebago.

Young also acknowledged having discussions with Winnebago city administrator Chris Ziegler about the teardown of several buildings in town.

Voted to unanimously approve the official reappointment of the county assessor, a position held by Gertrude Paschke.

“A new four-year assessor term has arrived and the Minnesota Department of Revenue has requested a copy of a resolution to verify my reappointment,” Paschke informed the board.

Heard an update from Dale Krystosek, of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), on the county’s own Soil and Water Conservation District and Planning and Zoning department.

BWSR completed a performance review of the department through legislative authorization, and the findings, Krystosek said, revealed Faribault County’s staff to be “a strong performer in the delivery of soil and water conservation services.”

Like just about every county’s department, he added that there is room for improvement, but commended both Michele Stindtman, Brandee Douglas and the board for the work of Soil and Water and Planning and Zoning in the area.

Approved two donations to the Veterans Services office, one from the Disabled American Veterans charity (South Central Chapter 32) and another from a private donor.

Veterans Services Officer Dave Hanson was on hand to present the donations for approval, stating that the Disabled American Veterans money a $1,000 total will go toward the department’s next veteran care van, while the anonymous donation, also $1,000, will be split between two veterans who endured health issues from separate incidents of a car fire and agricultural accident.

Hanson also targeted Nov. 10 as an open house for the Veterans Services office and its new staff, inviting the commissioners and any of their constituents to attend.

Discussed potential changes to the Fairmont facilities that host the county’s transit system staff.

“We talked about possibly moving (transit director) Jeremy (Monahan) out to the transit facility,” commissioner Tom Loveall said. “We’re looking at if there’s some money available to do a little build-out there, and I know Tom (Warmka) suggested before, ‘Wouldn’t it be better if Jeremy were closer to the action?'”

Monahan, the director of the transit system, which recently became an in-house operation of Faribault and Martin counties following the termination of a contract with Fairlakes Transportation, is currently located in an office separate from the transit’s headquarters.

Received updates on construction projects from county engineer Mark Daly.

On Blue Earth’s newly reconstructed Main Street, Daly said all crosswalks had been poured and that the plan was for road striping to begin after the installment of signs, which was tentatively slated for Oct. 21.

On North Main, meanwhile, Daly said Dec. 3 is still the targeted completion date for a new bridge.

He also said that the Minnesota Department of Transportation “will be installing 60 miles-per-hour signs between Winnebago and Wells.