Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


County recieves news on jail

County commissioners were informed prior to their May 21 meeting that the Minnesota Department of Corrections has completed its scheduled inspection of the county jail facility and returned its findings. Although the county is awaiting clarification regarding a number of statements on the report, it appears law enforcement will be able to continue using its jail for the time being. A work session the morning of June 4 will share more information.
During administrative reports, reference was made to the “dramatic” conclusion of the state legislative session over the prior weekend. Leaders speculated it will take some time to clarify the repercussions of the many last-minute decisions published in an “omnibus” bill well over 1,000 pages long. County administrator Michael Johnson encouraged commissioners to log in to an approaching update being put together by the Association of Minnesota Counties to find out more.
Board members declared May 30 “Commissioner Blair Nelson Day” in Waseca County. May 30 is the first anniversary of then-chairman Nelson’s sudden death. In observance of the day, flags at the courthouse were flown at half staff; in the evening, the courthouse was lit blue and yellow in recognition of Nelson’s status as an avid Bluejays fan.
After hearing information about the possibility of a county-wide Economic Development Authority (EDA), board members agreed to sign a letter of support for a grant request recommended by Johnson. The county administrator explained that, to be eligible for certain programs and funding opportunities, it is necessary that there be an officially established county EDA. Johnson said state statute allows for a nine-member board; how membership might overlap with EDAs already established by other agencies has yet to be established.
When public comment was requested at the beginning of the meeting, county resident Mark Schaetzke took a few minutes to tell board members he believes it is wrong to place pieces of county-owned property up for sale to the highest bidder. He mentioned his family lives near one of the areas listed, and said he sees members of the public visiting the land to take part in recreational activities.
Schaetzke pointed out Minnesota is currently spending $150 million on its “Get Out More” program, and suggested that converting the publicly owned property to private ownership is counter to that initiative. He further offered that Pheasants Forever and other habitat-oriented groups might be potential buyers.
During the board’s 8 a.m. work session, County Engineer Jim Kollar summarized the capital improvement plan (CIP) he has devised for the county’s roads. Citing safety and the need to balance costs as two large factors in the decision-making process, Kollar listed projects underway this season, some he has planned for next season, and others under consideration in future years.
Commissioners used the session as an opportunity to ask questions, discuss strategies followed by past engineers, and generally speculate about the condition of roads in the county. Among topics raised were what can be done to keep gravel roads from becoming gradually wider and the effect it has on paved roads that, rather than using a farm truck to haul a number of smaller loads of grain or other materials, many farmers now use a semi to haul a single, heavier load.
Commissioners complimented Kollar on his thoroughness in assembling the plan, thanked him for his many efforts to find outside sources of funding for various highway projects, and expressed pleasure that Kollar collaborates with city and township boards to help advance projects on roads which fall under the jurisdiction of more than one agency.
Hannah Buckland of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development (OBD) presented a slide show which summarized the department’s purpose and philosophy. She said the office was established in 2013, currently has 13 staff members, and administers numerous programs intended to build “digital equity” for Minnesotans. She defined the term as meaning “the condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy.”
Among other tasks, she mentioned the office has the job of distributing federal funding based on nationally-established criteria. The National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) allotted about $13 million to the state of Minnesota to be distributed through the OBD.


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