It wasn’t an easy decision for the commissioners at the Tuesday morning Ramsey County Commission meeting but in the end, the commissioners voted to allow the contractor working on Old Highway 2 to close it for two, three days tops to move its construction project along.
A 36-inch culvert has to go in and it would go much faster if they can close the road for a couple of days, explained Kevin Fieldsend, County Roads Supervisor. It was suggested that a detour route be set up so the many people who use that road can get to their destinations and home again. Because this is a change from the original plan for the project it was recommended that the contractor pay for the additional signage needed for the detour. After a great deal of discussion, the commission decided it was in everyone’s best interest to allow the construction company to close the highway while they are putting in the culvert and to establish a detour for those who need it possibly using the Crary Road and Ramsey No. 4. “Make sure it’s only for a couple of days, though, that’s a busy highway” Commissioner Ed Brown said.
In other business before the commission, Veterans Service Officer Earl Hanson reported that he’s hopeful that the veterans clinic will be a reality in Devils Lake by the end of this year. The latest news he was told about the clinic is that they would soon be advertising for a location and then for staff.
Hanson said that he had not begun traveling to the smaller towns around the county to do outreach like he did last year. He added that he would gladly do that if there was a need, but often he found himself not having any contacts with local vets and thought that his time could be better served working in the office.
County Agent Bill Hodous reported that harvest was progressing nicely in the county and that barley yields were 15 percent above expected.
He added that he’d been getting phone calls from other states from farmers looking for hay, the 4-H kids had done well this year at the state fair and the lake dropping was a good thing for everyone.
Kristen Nelsen, Emergency Manager, agreed that the lake dropping was a good thing. She asked the commissioners about issuing a non-building flood plain development permit, which, to her knowledge, they had never issued from her office before. The commission agreed and directed her to inform the individual who had inquired about it that the permit was not required in Ramsey County.
She also discussed out of town travel to attend a conference, which was approved after some discussion. Commissioner Scott Diseth recommended that the commission look at how often employees attend conferences and perhaps determine if a schedule of some sort could be established instead of attendance every year, or if that was even possible in some cases.
Page 2 of 3 - Nelsen informed the commissioners that she had been asked to speak at the next N.D. state conference held later this year.
Steve Moe from the county’s IT department discussed a bill for server maintenance and the commission voted to pay it and to get reimbursement from the city. That would let Moe go forward with installing the new version.
Fieldsend rounded out his report with an update of work being done on Ramsey County No. 4, Fenster Slough, and the Woods Rutten Road. He added a request to pay for the additional gravel stockpiled, which the commission voted to approve. “That’s a pretty fair price,” Diseth said of the amount quoted in the request.
He also added that Terry Aronson requested an approach be built on Military Road to access the new development in the area of the hay field, near Acorn Ridge.
He also added a request from the Mayor of the town of Brocket for an approach to be added into that community.
Both requests were approved.
Josh Kadrmas from KLJ (Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson) reported that he had talked to the township chairs about relocation a portion of a 230 KV transmission line for Great River Energy. They will also need an access road to service the new section, he said. They would be abandoning 12 poles and are seeking ways to have minimal impact on crops in the area.
Then the discussion turned to budgets for next year, county mills and property valuations. Ramsey County Auditor Elizabeth Fischer explained that the mills would be coming down this year, but because property valuations have increased that didn’t necessarily mean that taxes would not increase.
Brown reminded the commission that at some point the legislators need to address the issue of property tax, “It seems to be getting more unfair by the year,” he said.
The commissioners had some questions about a request from the Lake Region Heritage Center to put on the ballot in November their request to triple what the county gives the museum. No one from that group was in attendance at the meeting to address their issues, therefore the commission tabled the request to their next meeting.
Under commission portfolio reports Fieldsend reported that the 818 appeal had been filed and they were waiting to hear on that. He was referring to a road raise in Pelican Township that originally had been a full grade raise, but was reduced to a 6/3 temporary fix. The commission would like to see it be a full blown grade raise. Fieldsend figured they would hear the ruling in mid September on that issue.
The commission was informed by Commission Chair Bill Mertens that land acquisition was progressing in the area of the Devils Lake Regional Airport for the extending the runway project.
Page 3 of 3 - Commissioner Joe Belford reported that the Law Enforcement Center was doing well financially and that District Health had a lot going on as they head into the budget process.
Diseth reported that he hadn’t gone to the State Fair but had heard from others who had gone that the fairgrounds were immaculate but it was the city of Minot that was sadly in need of repairs in many areas. He also reminded the commissioners that the country road system was still in bad shape and needed their attention.
The water board came into the end of the meeting asking about budgets, mills and sulfate levels in the Sheyenne. They emphasized how important it still is to continue to get water off the lake with the outlets.
It was suggested that the governor be invited back to the area and an outlet advisory committee meeting be held to talk about what lies ahead as the lake continues to go down, if it continues to go down.
The next meeting of the Ramsey County Commission begins the budget process, therefore begins at 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 with department heads one by one meeting with the board at 10 minute intervals.