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County Commissioners Receive Updates

Murray County Commissioners met on Tuesday, May 2nd. Everyone was present and the agenda was approved with additions. The minutes from the April 25th meeting were reviewed and approved. 

Heidi Winter, County Auditor, was first on the agenda. She presented the Board with this week’s warrants. These were reviewed and approved for payment. She next presented them with the ditch bills. All bills this week were viewer bills. The Board discussed these and approved them. She next presented the Board with a resolution to participate again in the performance measure program. The County has been taking part of this program since 2011 and it allows the County to be exempt from statutory levy limits. Winter also had one addition. This was a request to pass a subordination agreement for a property in Lake Benton, MN. There are under 3 years left to the loan before it is fully forgiven and the landowners would like to refinance to do an improvement and repairs to the home. The Board approved this request. 

Howard Konkol, Ditch Inspector, was next on the agenda. He had 4 ditch reports to present to the Board. Each was reviewed in detail and the Board approved the reports and the necessary steps. The ditch along Highway 30 on the East side of Slayton was discussed. With the road construction project the Board feels this would be a good time to continue researching this issue.

Chris Lewis was present at this week’s Commissioner meeting to ask the Board for approval to move one of the old Dodge trucks to surplus. This was approved. The Board also had some questions for Heath Landsman regarding EMS. Landsman gave the Board an update on the sirens in our county.

Tim Lange, with the Murray County Racing Association, was present to discuss a few topics with the Board. His first request was for them to consider waiving the $1 entry fee per person on June 30th Salute to Ag Night. The Board approved this request. His next request was to be able to have a DJ on the night of July 14th when they will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary and doing their Hall of Fame night. The Board approved for the DJ to play after the race but they need to be done by 12:30. The last item was a lease extension request to October 15th for a final race of the year. The Board approved this request as well.

Linda Tobias and Janet Voges were next on the agenda-representing Relay for Life. They asked the Board to approve the Paint the County Purple Proclamation again this year. They look forward to painting business windows again and will be getting help from the MCC art department.

Justin Hoffmann was next on the agenda. He had two items for the Board. First, was a request from Minnwest Bank to hold their annual picnic at the fairgrounds on June 20th. The Board approved this request. Next was the cost estimate from Engelkes Electric for the update to the Cattle Barn. The fair board had received an AgStar grant for $3,000 and 4-H will pick up the remaining cost of this project. The Board approved this. 

Open Forum today had two visitors. Duane Campbell and Kendal Cooreman, both gentlemen wanted to discuss Ditch 22 and where things stood with the petition. County Attorney Travis Smith explained the process to them. They questioned why Bolton and Menk had been out surveying and it was explained that part of the process means the Ditch Authority has to find out if there is just cause to do the request. Also if the petition is denied the petitioning parties are responsible for any costs incurred. 

Dennis Goebel, Murray County Medical Center CEO gave the Board an update on the Hospital and how things are going. 

Randy Groves and Lisa Saner were next on the agenda to give the annual update for the highway department. Groves also reported that they have been approved for funding for some township bridge projects.  The bid opening was set for June 6th at 10:30 am. He also talked to the Board about setting a transition-planning meeting. The County is required to have a ADA Transition Plan in place so they are still eligible for federal funding. A Public Hearing was set for June 6th at 1pm to discuss this. 

The Board approved the hiring of Allisen Cantin as the Administrative Assistant for the Sheriff’s office. She will start May 15th pending background checks. 

Janet Timmerman, with the Museum, was next on the agenda. She started by giving the Board an update on her recent attendance to a conference in Walker, MN. She reported always enjoying these opportunities to network and learn new ideas and processes. She then asked the Board to approve an increase in hours for herself and Gaylene Chapman while they work on getting the open position filled. The Board approved this request. They also discussed and approved for the recruitment process to start for Jordan’s position. Timmerman next went through the Museum Assessment for End O Line park. Many items have already been completed; some may not happen for a while, for example steps to the locomotive. They are currently in the process of fixing the “tilt” of the Engine and won’t do ADA steps until that’s been resolved. Timmerman is applying for a grant this summer to help with funding for this project. 

With no more business to discuss the meeting was adjourned.

City Council gets update on 2016 Audit and Nuisance/Maintenance Ordinance

Slayton City Council met on Monday, May 1st. All council members were present. There was no one present for the public forum. The agenda was approved.  The minutes from the regular meeting on April 14th and the board of equalization on April 19th were reviewed and approved. The claims were presented to the council and approved. The only pending item to report was that the part-time police interviews will be starting.

The first item of new business was the 2016 audit presentation by Steve Haugen. He also brought with him Danielle Berg and Kim Eisfeld, of Eisfeld & Berg Accounting who are taking over his accounts as Haugen moves toward retirement. The 2016 audit was done on the accrual basis not the past practice of cash basis. Accrual is the GASBY 34 accepted practice and gives a more current and accurate picture of the city’s financial position. Revenues for the 2016 year were higher than projected and this is mostly based off the insurance refunds which were higher than expected. The city in the past has always passed a resolution keeping 40% of the yearly budget on hand. They again approved this resolution. There were funds in the amount of $111,797.40 that they need to decide what to do with.  They are going to use the excess funds to pay off the 34th Street construction fund, $10,765.26. The 34th St. project isn’t cancelled but the Council feels it’s on hold as they figure out some options for development for the city. They feel paying the account off was the best course of action. They then moved the remaining funds to the capital improvement fund. These funds are unrestricted and will allow them to use as they see fit or for any unforeseen expenses. The Council thanked Haugen for his easy to understand, yet detailed report.

Next on the agenda was the 2017 Park, Rec and Pool employees. Elissa Reinsma will be the new Director and Kate Robinson will be the returning Pool Manager. The Council approved the employee hire list with Boerboom and Jacobson both abstaining as their kids are on the hire list.

The next item of business was the 2018/2019 Assessor Contract. This contract is like years past; the only change is the increase in the cost per year to $17,400. The council agreed with this new contract and feel their knowledge and experience are worth the increased cost.

The last item of business was an update from Police Chief Brian Christenson and Police Secretary Lindsey Schreier on the Nuisance and Maintenance ordinances. Schreier spoke with other communities to see how they have successfully implemented similar ordinances in their communities. Many agreed that having community meetings is very important and will allow the residents to feel involved and give feedback about the process. Some larger communities do have volunteer programs that offer help to individuals in need as well. She also included the numbers of violations for the Council since 2013. There have been 214 violations but only 20 of them have gone to citations being issued. The numbers have been going up but of the 63 residential violators this year already over 50 of them have complied to the requests. The numbers show a 91% compliance rate. A few properties have been identified as needing attention and both Christiansen and Schreier hope to work with the landowners to find a positive outcome. Schreier did research possible programs to help individuals with funding options and wants to pull the community together to help with this process. A community meeting will be happening in the next couple weeks so please look for that information.

There was no other business to discuss and the meeting was adjourned.

Farm Service Agency Program Reminders

The following are reminders for participants of Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs that could help in processing of applications and payment making.  

Changing Bank Accounts

All FSA payments should be electronically transferred into your bank account. In order to make timely payments, you need to notify the office if you close your account or if your bank is purchased by another financial institution. Payments can be delayed if we are not aware of changes to account and routing numbers.

Civil Rights/Discrimination Complaint Process

As a participant or applicant for programs or activities operated or sponsored by USDA you have a right to be treated fairly. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or marital or familial status, you may file a discrimination complaint. The complaint should be filed with the USDA Office of Civil Rights within 180 days of the date you became aware of the alleged discrimination. To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice or TDD), USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. A complaint must be filed within 180 calendar days from the date the complainant knew, or should have known, of the alleged discrimination.

Power of Attorney

For those who find it difficult to visit the county office personally because of work schedules, distance, health, etc., FSA has a power of attorney form available that enables you to designate another person to conduct your business at the office. If you are interested, please contact our office or any Farm Service Agency office near you for more information. Power of Attorney provisions do not apply to farm loan programs.  

Special Accommodations

Special accommodations will be made upon request for individuals with disabilities, vision impairment or hearing impairment. If accommodations are required, individuals should contact the county FSA office directly or by phone. 

Minnesota State Horticulture Society District Iv, “Prairie Gardeners: Annual Convention

The members of the MSHS (MN State Horticulture Society) District IV in southwestern MN will be meeting at the Comfrey Community Center 120 Brown Street on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 to hold their 62nd Annual Convention. The Convention is hosted by the 14 members of the Floratennial Garden Club of Comfrey. The day includes a flower show, business meeting, 2 speakers, vendors, plant sale, door prizes and lunch.

Doors open at 8 am for registration, beverages and muffins. There will be a short business meeting and Awards Ceremony at 9:15 am, led by District President, Marianne Schotzko.  This will be followed by Lynn Hacker of Hackers Greenhouse giving a presentation on Gardening for the Birds. 

Bonnie Boerboom of Walnut Grove will be judging the Flower Show. Categories in the show revolve around the theme “BIRDS AND BLOOMS”. The judge’s report will be given before noon and attendees can then view the entries and shop at the vendors.

After the noon luncheon, the speaker will be Al Batt of rural Hartland, MN. He is a writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist. He is a regular contributor to nature and birding magazines, newspapers and farm periodicals.  He has written jokes for a former President of the United States. He will be giving his presentation on birds which is part of our day’s theme.

Refreshments will be served after Al’s presentation, at approximately 1:30 pm. Drawings for door prizes will be held throughout the day. Anyone wishing to enter the Flower Show may contact Martha Fredin for a show schedule.

The day is open to everyone.  Anyone wishing to attend is requested to send their registration to Martha Fredin at 211 Eastern Ave. So., Comfrey, MN 56019 by June 1st. Cost of registration is $13 a person which includes morning and afternoon coffee and noon luncheon. Make checks payable to Floratennial Garden Club.

Everyone is welcome to come and spend a day with fellow garden and bird enthusiasts.