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New county attorney is from Austin

Board chooses Cameron Davis to replace Karjala

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | May 23, 2021

Cameron Davis has been hired to fill out the term of County Attorney Kathryn Karjala, who tendered her resignation earlier this year. Karjala’s last day on the job is scheduled to be July 2. Davis has a tentative start date of June 14.

“We interviewed two candidates,” Central Services director Lexi Scholten explained. “Our interview panel consisted of Sheriff Mike Gormley, Deputy Scott Adams, auditor/treasurer Darren Esser, commissioner Greg Young, commissioner John Roper, County Attorney Karjala, Lynn Smithwick who is the Social Services manager for Faribault and Martin County Human Services, and myself.”

Scholten told the board a conditional job offer was extended to Davis and he accepted.

“He lives in Austin so it is about an hour drive from there to Blue Earth,” Scholten mentioned. “His law practice is located in Albert Lea.”

Davis is not required to live in the county since he is filling out the term of Karjala. Should he decide to run for election, Davis would have to establish residence in the county 45 days prior to the election, which will be held in November of 2022.

The board approved the hiring with Davis receiving a starting salary of $48.85 per hour, which is step five out of nine on the county pay scale.

Public Works director Mark Daly attended the meeting to update the board on the summer construction schedule.

“The plans have been approved for County State Aid Highway 31 and the paving is scheduled for 2022,” Daly commented. “The work on the bridge on CSAH 21 has been moved up from August to the week of June 20.”

Daly noted the dry spring has enabled most construction projects to be on or ahead of schedule.

“The 2021 overlay projects in the county will begin in mid-July,” Daly offered. “The construction on the bridge located on 10th Street near Pilot Grove is dependent on delivery of the precast units. Seal coating should begin around July 19.”

The commissioners also approved a bid for diesel/gasoline for $250,000, which is $25,000 less than what was budgeted for last year.

Planning and Zoning director Loria Rebuffoni attended the meeting and informed the commissioners R and R Hogs had planted the trees, as was required by their permit, around their hog site.

“They have a drip irrigation system set up to keep the trees watered,” she explained.

Rebuffoni said work was continuing on the nuisance ordinance.

“The people on the Planning and Zoning Commission are very sensitive to the concerns of county residents,” she noted. “They are approaching the subject from a pollution standpoint.”

Discussion was also held on the work to be done on the courthouse. On the recommendation of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the board authorized the committee to solicit a construction contract from Kraus-Anderson for work on the courthouse HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) project.

The work may also include replacement of the domestic water piping and fire alarms along with mold/asbestos abatement and sprinkler installation.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, retiring KBEW news director Norm Hall addressed the board.

“I want to thank the commissioners, past and present, for doing their reports and helping KBEW in the radio station’s efforts to keep the public informed on events around the county,” Hall said. “I have appreciated the opportunity to work with you.”

Commissioner Tom Loveall had some words of praise for Hall.

“You have been a fixture and an asset in the community,” Loveall commented.

Board chairman John Roper also spoke up.

“On behalf of the board, we want to thank you for all the work you have done while at KBEW,” Roper commented.

The board also:

• Voted to follow Minnesota State guidelines regarding masks. Masks will not be required inside of county buildings but may be worn by anybody wishing to do so. A sign will be posted at each entrance asking people who feel ill not to enter the building.

• Decided to continue utilizing Zoom for their meetings for those people who do not want to attend in-person.

• Directed Darren Esser, the auditor/treasurer/coordinator, to apply for the $2.65 million in Coronavirus Recovery Funds.

• Approved a training request from Deputy Christopher Beaver to attend a Blue Life Support Seminar.

• Gave approval to Merissa Lore and Dustin Anderson of the drainage department to attend a course entitled Agricultural Drainage and the Future of Water Quality 2021 Spring Field Tour.

• Set the time of the June 15 board meeting for 4 p.m. to correlate with the 6:30 p.m. Board of Appeals Meeting.