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County gets $268K more in funding

Board also has its first new commissioner in 10 years sworn in

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jan 10, 2021

Newly elected District 5 county commissioner Bruce Anderson, left, is sworn into office by Faribault County District Court Judge Troy Timmerman in the courtroom before the regular commissioners meeting began.

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners began 2021 with the first change on the board since 2011, when commissioner Greg Young began his first term.

Bruce Anderson, took the oath of office as the commissioner for District 5 after being elected to fill the seat vacated by Tom Warmka, who retired from the board at the end of last year.

One of the first actions of the board was passing a motion to accept more coronavirus relief funds.

This time the funds are coming from the Minnesota County Coronavirus Relief Act with Faribault County receiving $268,008.

The commissioners voted to accept the funds and directed the Faribault County Economic Development Authority to distribute the money through business and non-profit grants.

“There is also a direct allocation from the State of Minnesota for restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and movie theaters. The county funds are separate from the direct state allocation,” Faribault County EDA specialist Annie Leibel explained. “We will plan on being open for grant requests on Jan. 25 with the grant round closing date set for Feb. 5.”

When the meeting was opened for public comment the board heard from Brad Bruegger, a resident of Dunbar Township, about concerns from a nearby hog facility owned by R & R Hogs LLC. which Bruegger said is affecting his ability to enjoy his property.

“There were trees which were supposed to be planted and that has not been done,” Bruegger told the board.

District 3 commissioner Bill Groskreutz, who represents Dunbar Township, said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has tested the air quality and the results from 2019 shows the hog unit was not in violation.

“Loria Rebuffoni (Planning and Zoning administrator), has not yet received the latest test results,” Groskreutz explained.

Rebuffoni then joined the meeting and informed the board some trees which were planted had died.

“R & R Farms has placed an order for trees and they will be planted next spring,” Rebuffoni explained.

The board directed Rebuffoni to keep on top of the situation and report back to the commissioners.

Public Works director Mark Daly was on hand to seek approval to start the bid process on some of the county road projects for 2021.

“We have three bridges which are to be replaced this year. The east fork of the Blue Earth River has two locations where the bridges are to be replaced,” Daly explained. “One of those is on County Road 21 and the other is on County Road 109. The other bridge is in the southwestern part of the county on County State Aid Highway 9. It will go over Judicial Ditch No. 7.”

Daly explained two of the ditches were originally on the schedule to be replaced in 2025 but have been added to this year’s projects.

The board voted to have Daly begin the bid process which also included projects for striping, seal coating and crack sealing.

Leibel, in her position as the Winnebago EDA specialist, joined the meeting again to update the board on the former Winnebago SuperValu property.

“The EDA worked with Minnesota Brownfields to conduct an environmental site assessment at the site of the former SuperValu,” Leibel explained. “The city received a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency which funded a Phase 1 Environmental Review.”

Leibel gave a summary of the report which found there are some asbestos materials which would need to be removed prior to demolishing the building.

“Also, it should be noted there is a 55 gallon drum in the crawl space of the building which would have to be inspected before any demolition could begin,” Leibel commented.

The next step Winnebago is taking, according to Leibel, is to pursue developers for the site which would allow the county and the city to apply for a Redevelopment Grant through DEED (the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development).

“There is some concern the building poses a potential hazard,” Leibel said. “This past summer debris from the roof blew into the highway and brick from the facade is consistently falling onto the sidewalk.”

The commissioners thanked Leibel for the update and decided to be patient and hope a business will choose to develop the site. However, they acknowledged if a developer does not come forth, the county and the city may have to go ahead with the demolition of the building.

The board also:

• Set per diems for lay committee members at $40 per day. Mileage reimbursement was set at the 2021 IRS rate of 56 cents per mile.

• Approved the bid from the Faribault County Register to be the official newspaper for 2021.

• Named John Hermann to the EDA committee; Douglas Bruckhoff and Kerry Doyle to the Extension committee; Shellie Poetter to the Library Board; Allen Aukes and Morris Hanson, Jr. to the Planning Commission.

• Approved the request of Brittany Gehrking, of the Sheriff’s Department, to attend the United States Police Canine Association Narcotics Recertification program in New Hope.

• Gave approval for Lexi Scholten to attend the AMC (Association of Minnesota Counties) Practical Leadership Conference and the County Government 101 Conference. Both conferences are virtual.