County, state reach accord

BLUE EARTH – Faribault County commissioners on Tuesday accepted the state’s revised numbers for the reconstruction of Highway 169, and offered some advice to the state in return.

County Engineer John McDonald said the Department of Transportation had come “down about $300,000 from where we were at. These values are more in line.”

He recommended that the county enter into an agreement with the state. Commissioners approved participation by the percentage stated; the actual dollar amounts will depend on the bids received for the work.

Commissioners still don’t like the three proposed roundabouts.

“Can you give us the rationale on the roundabouts, as far as traffic load?” asked Commissioner Bill Groskreutz.

It’s based on Intersection Control Evaluation, or ICE, McDonald said, and pertains to how much traffic actually passes through.

“If the traffic becomes too much for the roundabouts, then they go to stoplights,” he noted.

Commissioner Tom Loveall pointed out that roundabouts are not that common. A lot of people, particularly the elderly, might have trouble navigating one.

“If MnDOT has classes on days when the public can come in and learn how to go through these things,” Loveall said. “A little bit of forewarning, with a little bit of community outreach. It’ll be well worth it for them to do it at little cost.”

Commissioner Tom Warmka said the county has known for years that roundabouts were coming, but he has never been lobbied so much on any issue.

“It resembles a shotgun wedding – nobody’s gonna be happy, but it’s coming,” he said.

“It will happen; MnDOT has never talked about not doing it,” Warmka said. “If we don’t do the roundabouts, they don’t do the road.”

“I am concerned very much on the price,” said Commissioner John Roper, whose district includes Blue Earth. “I’m still not in favor of the roundabouts.”

In other business, Brenda Ripley announced that 20 applications have been received for her position. She is retiring from Central Services.

She and the board discussed how interviews will be conducted and whether it is advisable to conduct them in a public meeting. In the end, it was decided the personnel committee will interview the applicants and whittle the number down to an appropriate level before the next step is taken.

Revisiting an old issue, the board approved paying $20,599 to Prairieland. Commissioner Greg Young noted the total amount given so far this year is about 70 percent of the annual budget the county sets aside for the Truman waste facility it co-owns.

“If this thing keeps running like this, we need to look at all our options,” said Loveall, adding he wants more accountability instead of just writing a check.

Young said National Green Energy Council has expressed an interest in running Prairieland. Others have expressed an interest as well. Young read a letter from Faribault County to Green Energy, thanking it for the interest and stating the county is interested in “furthering the dialogue.”

“If we can get more information, that’s good,” Groskreutz said.

“I want to hear more details,” Loveall said.

“I’m not gonna poo-poo that,” Warmka said. “Keep the dialogue open and keep moving along.”

The board approved sending the letter to Green Energy.