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Ditch causes uproar

By Staff | May 20, 2018

Chuck Brandel of ISG in Mankato, and Soil and Water Conservation District drainage manager Merissa Lore, addressed some very unhappy landowners regarding the on-going County Ditch 21 tile construction project at last Tuesday’s County Board meeting.

The project, which was contracted out to Northern Lines Contracting in Bloomington, has not met the satisfaction of landowners at the meeting. In addition to a very wet spring season, property owners have noticed several areas of the ditch that have poor drainage. This has resulted in standing water, which has made the surrounding land unsuitable for farming.

During a lengthy discussion with concerned landowners, Lore prioritized the main issues with the condition of the ditch.

“In my mind, County Ditch 21 is like a body with severed limbs bleeding. First and foremost, let’s get as many standing water areas opened up so we can reduce the amount of crop damage,” Lore said. “Hopefully we can plant on as many acres as possible. There’s going to be acres that are probably not going to be able to be planted, but let’s try to cut off some of the bleeding first.”

According to Lore, the CD 21 construction project must be completed by Dec. 31. Meanwhile, District 5 commissioner Tom Warmka, who categorized CD 21 as a “disaster,” reassured landowners the County Board has their citizen’s best interests in mind.

“You can trust us that we’re not going to sweep this under the rug. We won’t let you down on this,” Warmka said. “You have my personal guarantee. I’m a farmer too and I make my living off the land as well.”

The board took no action on the matter, however, District 2 commissioner Greg Young encouraged landowners to stay in communication with Lore to provide her with any updated information.

Other items at the meeting included:

Thomas Mayfield of National Healthcare Capital met with the board to discuss a possible bond issue by the United Hospital District. While no formal action was taken on the matter, the board indicated they would be open to hearing additional information from Mayfield in the future.

A conditional use permit for Jacob Evans’ two-family dwelling in Pilot Grove Township was approved by the board.

Dustin Anderson of the Soil and Water Conservation District noted all non buffer law compliant landowners will receive a corrective action notice by June 1.

The County Board authorized the final payment to Redstone Construction for the 385th Avenue Bridge project. The final contract amount is $613,105.86.

The board also approved the hiring of seasonal park mowers Vernon Heise and Benjamin Babcock.