Harsh winter caused problems for county
Weather has been the main topic of many conversations over the last two months and although spring has officially begun, the county is still dealing with the effects of the winter season.
The Faribault County Commissioners learned about some weather-related issues affecting the county at their meeting last Tuesday, March 19.
Melting snow combined with rain and above freezing temperatures have left gravel roads in very poor condition, according to Mark Daly, Faribault County Public Works director.
“This year has been an unusual year because of all the snow we have had,” Daly explained. The ditches are full and there is no place for the water to go.”
Nine county gravel roads remained closed as of March 19. The number closed had been as high as 11 on March 14.
The commissioners thanked Daly and the county road crews for doing what they could to make the roads passible and talked about the need for more money to improve the county’s gravel roads.
“We know gravel roads come in second to paved roads in terms of budgeting,” noted commissioner Tom Loveall. “We need to come up with some revenue streams which will allow us to spend more on our gravel roads.”
The discussion of transportation issues continued with Prairie Lakes Transit director, Jeremy Monahan, informing the board of a short term cash flow issue facing the bus system.
Due to the delay of the payment the transit system receives from the federal government for the final quarter of the previous year, there is a temporary shortage of operating funds which will occur in late April or early May.
Following discussion, the board approved an advance of $30,000 for Prairie Lakes Transit. A similar motion had been passed earlier in the day by Martin County.
One final transportation issue the board dealt with was passing a resolution calling for the state government to provide adequate funding for Minnesota’s statewide transportation system.
Commissioner John Roper provided information from the Region 9 Workforce Board which shows Faribault County had a drop in population of 769 residents from 2010 to 2017, a 5.3 percent decrease. The largest percentage decrease in the nine county region occurred in Brown County, which saw its population decrease by 6.6 percent.
The report also showed seven of the nine counties lose more workers than they bring in on a day-to-day basis.
Kathryn Karjala, the county attorney, informed the board Minnesota had discontinued its competency restoration program, which had been the only such program in the state.
Counties in the state of Minnesota are in a real difficult position at this point, according to Karjala, because they don’t know what to do with individuals who are not competent to proceed to trial if they do not meet a mental illness level of commitment.
“In the big picture, if you have been charged with a crime, we are not going to continue to prosecute you if you are too mentally ill to proceed with the trial,” Karjala stated. “We have an expert come and evaluate the defendant and the expert will provide us with their opinion on whether the defendant is competent to proceed with the trial.”
Faribault County is fortunate because it only has one individual currently who is not competent to proceed, Karjala told the board.
“However, the individual doesn’t meet commitment level criteria so I have no place to send him to treat him to competency,” Karjala explained.
Karjala mentioned there is a bill at the state legislature to create a task force to investigate what to do in these types of situations but it does not solve the problem of what to do with defendants which are currently not competent.
The board discussed various options for dealing with the situation. In the end, any solution proposed thus far will shift more expense back to the county.
In other business:
The board approved the purchase of two new mowers from A & P Service of Wells at a cost of $15,200.
A new copier for the extension service was approved.
A conditional use permit was granted for Chris Schumann, of Kiester, to sell and repair agricultural related equipment.
RMGarry Properties, LLC and Ulland Brothers, Inc. were granted a conditional use permit in Jo Daviess Township for material storage and processing of asphalt and concrete from Interstate 90 for the 2019/2020 construction season.