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County Board to help Winnebago

Agrees to sell building to city for $1, plus help pay for the demo

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Aug 22, 2021

Winnebago city administrator Jacob Skluzacek, far left, and EDA specialist Angie Stier, address the County Board members about the former SuperValu building.

Representatives of the city of Winnebago came to the Faribault County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 17, with a request to buy the former SuperValu store located on Winnebago’s Main Street.

“The former SuperValu site is a county-owned tax-forfeited property,” Winnebago city administrator Jacob Skluzacek told the commissioners. “The condition of the building has rapidly diminished over the years and is becoming a safety concern. The roof has collapsed and it is not uncommon for pieces of the roof to blow off onto Highway 169 on windy days.”

Skluzacek went on to explain why the city wishes to purchase the building.

“We have a strong desire to demolish the SuperValu site. We have looked into demolition loans and grants available from the state which would make the project feasible,” he commented. “However, in order to apply for these things, the city has to have ownership of the building.”

Skluzacek then expressed his next concern.

“We are happy to take ownership of the building but would ask the commissioners to still contribute up to $30,000 for the demolition of the building to the ground level,” he stated. “We estimate this to only be about a fourth of the total demolition costs, but every little bit helps.”

“I am glad the city has come forward with a plan,” commissioner Tom Loveall said. “I support the proposal.”

The other commissioners also were receptive to the city of Winnebago’s request.

“It is good the city is taking control,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz added.

A motion transferring ownership of the SuperValu site to the city of Winnebago for the sale price of $1, plus transfer fees, along with a pledge to contribute up to $30,000 to the city upon completion of the demolition was passed by a unanimous vote.

It was not the only tax-forfeited property the county dealt with during their meeting.

The County Board also approved the sale of a total of 14 such properties to the cities in which they are located.

“All of the parcels in question have been inspected and have been found to be in a blighted condition,” County Auditor/Treasurer Darren Esser told the commissioners. “The cities wish to purchase the parcels to correct the blight via building demolition. The price for each parcel will be $1 plus administration fees.”

Six of the parcels are located in Elmore, four are in Blue Earth, two are in Winnebago and there is one each in Delavan and Wells.

Public works director Mark Daly was also at the meeting to provide an update on road and bridge construction work being done in the county.

“The deck and the railing are done on the bridge over County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 21. The earthwork should be completed this week,” Daly commented. “The pile driving is complete on the CSAH 109 bridge and the work crew is forming piers and abutments.

“As for the work on the roads, all of the work on CSAH 1 is done except for the striping. The milling and widening of CSAH 16 is completed and the first two inches of bituminous has been put on the road. The final two inches of bituminous and the shouldering should be done by the end of this week.”

Also at the meeting to discuss highways were Greg Ous, the District 7 engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) along with the District 7 transportation planning director, Ronda Allis.

Ous and Allis reviewed the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) which covers proposed projects for the next four years and the Capital Highway Investment Plan (CHIP), which covers proposed highway projects for years 5-10.

“Both plans are updated annually,” Ous told the board. “The focus has shifted over the years to preservation of the existing system. There are currently 141 miles of highway to take into consideration in Faribault County. That number does not include the highways which were turned back to the county.”

It was noted one current project affecting Faribault County was the Highway 169 project from Winnebago to Vernon Center.

“That project is slated to be completed by Sept. 17,” Ous said.

More work on Highway 169 will take place in 2022.

“Construction will start at 14th Street and go to the north edge of Elmore,” Allis told the commissioners. “The city of Elmore is also trying to have some infrastructure work done in their city.”

The question was raised about when work on Interstate 90 from Blue Earth heading east might begin.

“It has been moved from 2025 to 2026,” Allis replied. “I-90 will be redone from the Blue Earth exit to the Wells exit. We are hoping the new surface will be concrete.”

Ous and Allis stressed these are only projections and they are subject to change, and updated information on highway projects may be found on the web.

Judd Schultz of the Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC) appeared virtually before the board to seek approval from the board for a resolution authorizing MVAC as the grantee and administrator for Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program funds in the counties of south central Minnesota.

“MVAC has administered this program in nine counties of south central Minnesota previously and has been provided funding for the period of Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 30, 2023,” Schultz explained. “Minnesota Housing requires a resolution from each county in MVAC’s service area acknowledging MVAC as the grantee and administrator for the funds.”

Schultz mentioned MVAC had helped with rent assistance for 263 families in the county and assisted 129 families with rapid rehousing when they became homeless.

The commissioners passed the resolution.

The County Board also heard from the Faribault County Fair Board about a donation for 2022.

Figures from the Fair Board’s profit and loss report showed total income of $106,000 and total expenses of $137,000 for a net loss of $31,000 from this year’s fair.

The commissioners asked to see a report from the Agricultural Society, which is a separate entity from the Fair Board, before deciding on the county’s donation for 2022.

In other business:

• A request by Chase Davis of the Faribault County Sheriff’s Department to attend a course to obtain certification for training other deputies in emergency vehicle operations (EVOC) was approved.

• Graphic Information Systems coordinator Brandee Douglas’s request to attend an Excel Level 3 training course was granted.