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September 24th, 2018 News

MCC Exchange Students

By Theresa Nysetvold

The Murray County Central staff and students are pleased to welcome exchange students Ines Rios Rus and Martina Ricci to our community.  The charming young ladies have joined the senior class and are looking forward to a wonderful experience absorbing American culture.

Ines is from Sevilla, Spain, which she describes as a small town about 10 minutes from a large city.  She lives there with her mother, father and ten year-old sister.  “We have a boat and we love to go sailing,” said Ines.  “We also love to climb mountains.  We just really love to have adventures!”  During her ten months in the United States, Ines will be hosted by Tony and Dana Clarke and their children.  She is enjoying their family and is looking forward to learning more customs, improving her English, traveling in the area and special events.  “My family is similar to the Clarkes.  I like that they joke around with me.”  Ines loves basketball and has played for a long time at home in Spain.  She is currently a member of the MCC volleyball team and plans to join basketball and softball.  “My mom was an exchange student when she was young, and she said it was amazing,”  remarked Ines.  “I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to come too.”

Martina is from Rome, Italy, where she lives with her parents and eleven year-old sister in a flat not far from the colosseum.  She is hosted this year by Blair and Tami Hellewell of Balaton and their children.  Martina’s hobbies include drawing, reading and studying the universe through a telescope.  “I can really see the stars here!”, exclaimed Martina.  “In Rome, I can only see about four stars!”  In Italy, Martina studies Latin grammar and literature, philosophy, religion and Italian.  She explained, “We have classes - mostly lectures - from 8:00-2:00 pm each day.  Then we eat lunch at home and do our homework.  Sports are in the evenings, maybe two or three times each week.”  Martina is cheering for football and hasn’t decided yet what other activities she will join.  She is at MCC for the first semester and is looking forward to learning more about American culture and sharing her Italian culture with MCC friends.  “I’m very comfortable with my host family and I hope to find a way to create a relationship with them that will last for many years.”  

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Commissioners Talk 2019 Budget

Murray County Commissioners met on Tuesday, September 18th. All members were present, and the meeting was called to order. The agenda was approved with additions and the minutes for the September 4th meeting were approved.

Heidi Winter was first on this week’s agenda. She presented the Board with the warrants and these were discussed and approved. She also presented the auditor warrants to which Commissioner Kluis asked to see the Solar Garden bills to see how that is working out. The idea behind the project was for the County to get a credit back on their Xcel bill for these. Winter will get this for him. Next were the ditch bills for the week. First was a bill for JD 3 which was approved. Then were the remaining bills for the County. These were also approved. The Board approved the request to close the petty cash account for Sunrise Terrace and reauthorized the License Center petty cash account with an increase. Winter next presented the Board with the final pay application for the courts roof project in the amount of $10,440.11. All punch list items have been completed and final closeout documents have been received. This payment was approved. The last item for Winter was a request to ratify an agreement with TriMin and McCCC. This is a professional services agreement between the two companies for their integrated financial system. Murray County is part of the Midstate Computer Collaborative which has members on these Boards (TriMin and McCCC) and brought this change to the county because of their connection to the collaborative.

Next on the agenda was Howard Konkol. He had 5 petitions to present to the Board and these were reviewed and approved. The next item of discussion was for JD 17 (Lake Elsie) and options for fixing it and finding a resolution to the water issue. They had located in the field, a sanitary lift station next to the tile which had collapsed onto the tile, filling it in west of highway 59 and south of the golf course. There are tree and root issues as well, which are blocking the tile. Konkol said they could clean it out and replace to larger tile or look into a re-route. Mike Riley was present with his findings and suggestions to help the Board understand what has been done already. The Lake is the City of Slayton’s property and thus the city is responsible for the upkeep of the Lake. Commissioner Thiner suggested a public meeting to discuss with those on the ditch system so everyone knows what’s going on. Commissioner Jens thought a re-route would be worth looking into. A public hearing will be scheduled to discuss in more depth.

Primewest was next on the agenda. Commissioner Gunnink had requested that the Board revisit this topic. Dr. Norris Anderson with Southern Prairie and Les Nath, Pipestone Commissioner spoke with the Board. Les pointed out what he saw as the benefits of being part of PW, quicker turnaround time and lower cost for people calling on claims.

Al Olson with Caring Hands out of Alexandria, MN was happy to be part of Pipestone County’s new dental clinic. Pipestone County was awarded a grant to build a dental clinic for people on medical assistance. Olson talked about his involvement with the program from the start. He and his wife started the process of providing dental services to those who couldn’t afford it many years ago. They started as a volunteer organization. They then created a business plan and the company, Caring Hands, for those with oral health needs, was created. His staff is anxious to have a clinic in Pipestone because of the high demand in the area. Without Primewest his company wouldn’t be here. Commissioner Kluis doesn’t know where the $880,000 would come from to join Primewest and Gunnink thought the county could use the wind tower funds to pay for this. 

Commissioner Magnus agreed those funds would be a good use. Also, half would need to be paid in 2019 and half would be paid in 2020. They thanked them for the information and will continue to discuss this.

Justin Keller with MCMC, acting CEO presented the Board with the hospital update. They recently updated the hospital’s mission, vision and value statements. This will help MCMC continue to grow in the community. He has been in the interim position for 4 weeks and is working to get caught up on everything. He is focusing on the values and teamwork is his primary focus right now. Working to improve the communication between all the departments at the hospital. Moving forward with new doctors starting and seeing patients. Commissioner Kluis asked about staffing which Keller reported they are fully staffed at this point.

The Wellness Committee brought to the Board a few events they have planned. First is a Mindfulness Program on October 9th at the 4-H building for employees. Cost is $1,200. They would also like to purchase some “Self-Help” books for the break rooms and start a Wellness Library. The last item they would like to purchase is a DiSC Staff Development Training with the University of Minnesota. This is a personality style test that allows people in the different departments to learn how each individual thinks, allowing for smoother working relationships. The Board approved these requests.

Randy Groves was next on the agenda. He presented the Board with final payment for striping this summer and payment for box culverts that were done last year. These were approved for payment. They received 3 bids for the cleaning position. Groves suggested approving the Touch of Class by H, LLC. The Board approved this. They next approved the quit claim deed for Lot Five (5), Tepeeotah Park First Addition, Murray County, Minnesota, Jeffrey D. Salmon and Kristi J. Salmon. This cleans up the easement for the old aerator shed location.

Marcy Barritt updated the Board on her recent attendance to the MAAO Fall Conference. Jim Reinert also gave the Board an update on his recent MNCVSO Fall Conference. 

The Board went into closed session pursuant to Minn. Stat. 13.D.05, subdivision 3(b) to receive advice regarding a PERA disability claim. The County’s PERA disability attorney, Mike Koshmrl was available by phone. No action was taken.

The Board also went into closed session pursuant to Minn. Stat. 13D.05 Subd. 3. C 3 to consider the purchase of parcel # 11-021-0021 (Steven Sundquist). No action was taken.

Justin Hoffmann discussed with the Board about getting the hoop barn repaired by Ankrum Construction. This will include new steel around the 4’ of the side walls and end walls and also install two new doors. The cost will be $14,301.32. The Board approved this request. They also approved Hoffmann’s request to have Muecke Sand and Gravel haul in up to 1000 yards of dirt to the racetrack for $9 per yard. The Board took a lunch break.

 The Board returned at 1pm to continue on with the agenda. Jean Christoffels had three conditional use permits to present to the Board. The first was for Jerome Beck for a new feedlot over 300 animal unit in Holly Township. This was approved by the Board. The next was a request from Travis and Troy Vos to expand their existing feedlot. There was some concern about smell by the neighbors, but all seemed to come to an agreement on this at the public hearing and the Board approved this CUP. The third request was from Rod Williams for an extension to get trees planted. He has found a contractor to get this completed this fall and will not need an extension.

The Board then moved on to 2019 budget talks, getting final details from Heath Landsman, Emergency Management and Annette Seivert, License Center. Landsman did make a slight change to his budget for 2019 adding the purchase of a drone and the licensing for that. This is something that can be used across multiple agencies and will be a benefit to the County. Seivert reported being up 230 transactions a month over 2017 and has a need for another staff member in her budget. She also pointed out to the Board that there will be changes in licensing processes coming up as well, including Real ID/DL and Enhanced ID/DL. Marcy Barritt came in to request of the Board an increase in her budget for a temporary employee to help imput data into the computer for next year. Chris Lewis with the Sheriff’s Department also came in to speak with the Board. He was there on behalf of the Sheriff requesting a budget change for 2019 for staffing changes. They would like to add a Chief Deputy as well as two intermittent deputies in 2019, an estimated total increase to the Sheriff budget of $174,904.02 (this number is dependent upon salaries). This would give the County 1 sheriff, 1 chief deputy, 7 road deputies, 2 investigators, 1 drug task force commander, 1 Emergency Management position and two part time deputies. “What happen to 24-hour staffing?” Commissioner Thiner asked. Lewis explained that he has provided several staffing structures for 24-hour staffing to Mr. Nipp with no response. Thiner then asked Lewis “Don’t you think the Board should have a say if you go to the Drug Task Force because it changes our budget here (in Murray County)?” Lewis explained that the dynamics of the Sheriff’s office is always changing. It’s hard to plan for those changes. Commissioner Kluis asked about the budgeted amount for the Drug Dog which right now they are considering suspending.  No decision has been made. Lewis also asked if Mr. Nipp has completed the structure analysis that he’s been working on for a few months?” Mr. Nipp replied, “It has not been completed as the information provided by the sheriff’s department was incomplete.” Lewis said he gave it to him months ago. Nipp stated, “It would boil down to hand counting 10,000+ records with some parts of the information not properly copied and transferred over so parts were un-readable. I am going back to an older system to run the report using a Per Capita Comparison Model and should have those numbers for the Board shortly.”

Heidi asked if we need to wait for Mr. Nipps’s data to make the changes to the staffing numbers for the sheriff’s department and the 2019 budget or what numbers she should work with. Thiner advised her to add $100,000 as the additional funds needed as an estimate for the sheriff’s budget. Winter will bring back numbers at the next week’s meeting. Commissioner Gunnink wanted to re-address the Primewest topic and feels that with the higher reimbursements alone, this is enough of a reason to consider joining Primewest. Commissioner Thiner stated, “we have been preaching since day one that we (the County) doesn’t put any money into the hospital. How do the tax payers actually see their dollars back to them? It’s not going to come back to the people who are paying for it.” Commissioner Magnus feels this is a big asset to the community and feels it would be smart for the County to join this group. Magnus made a motion to join Primewest and use wind tax funds to pay the $880,000 price tag – Second by Gunnink – Commissioners Kluis and Thiner voted no and Commissioners Magnus and Gunnink voted in favor. The final vote landed to Board Chair Jens and he voted in favor of joining Primewest. The payment for this can be broken into two payments of $440,000 one paid in 2019 and one in 2020.

With no other business the meeting was adjourned for the day.

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Slayton City Council Approves Preliminary Budget

The Slayton City Council met on Monday night, September 17th. Members present were Chris Jacobson, Blake Heronimus, Kate Harmsen and Mayor Miron Carney. Absent was Council Member Mark Boerboom. The meeting was called to order and the agenda was approved. There was no old business to discuss.

The first item of new business was the request from the MCC Students for Homecoming week. They requested the blocking off of the streets for the Homecoming Parade on Friday, September 21st and also to have the bonfire out at the softball fields on Friday night. This was approved and is an annual event for MCC students 

The next item discussed was the Elm Street road issue that was brought to the Council’s attention earlier in the Summer. Public Works Director Weston Mahon brought to the Council an option for getting this issue corrected. He sees the solution being to add new tile that will run to the existing catch basin. He feels it’s something the Works Department can handle right now, and it should only take a few days to get completed. The Council approved this request.

The next item on the agenda was a request from Police Chief Brian Christensen. He has been researching body cams and programs to find the best options for the City of Slayton. The program he is suggesting to the Council to consider was a program called Watch Guard. This will include both new cameras for the squad cars and body cams for the officers and the program to run them. Watch Guard is a company the Minnesota State Patrol is going with and its compatible with current systems the City uses. He also likes that its “easy and durable”. This is budgeted for the 2018 year with $30,000 set aside in the capital improvement plan. With body cams there are some necessary items that need to be addressed by the City and Council and they need to be an integral part of the policy creation process. They need to have policies and processes in place for how the City will utilize the records and store them. It is also required that multiple public hearings are held to get community feedback on the body cams. Christensen feels this is a good tool for the officers and City to have and will be good for both liability and evidence collection. The Council agreed this would be a good move for the City and approved moving forward. A public hearing will be set.

Heidi and Brett Mathiason were present to request of the Council a liquor license as they will be purchasing City Limits Bar & Grill from Sharon and Tyler Giese effective October 1st, 2018. They also requested for the license fee to be prorated as they will be purchasing this late in the year. The Council agreed with this request as they have done this in the past for individuals. They also approved the transfer of License.

The Council next passed a resolution calling for a public hearing on October 1st to vacate old easements in the new Prairie Estates development. This was approved by the Council.

The last item of discussion for the evening was to set the 2019 Preliminary Budget. A reminder to residents, this number is as high as the budget can be for the 2019 year, but the Council will be working to lower it before the end of year deadline. The 2019 preliminary budget was set for $1,012,870.00, an increase over last year of 8.48%. This does seem high, but City Administrator Josh Malchow assured the Council that he has a number of things “in the works” that he anticipates will decrease this number. With no other business the meeting was adjourned.

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