Lake Region Heritage Center request added to June ballot

Louise Oleson, Editor
The Ramsey County Commissioners listen to a county resident speaking in favor of annexing a portion of Dry Lake Township into neighboring Fresh Water Township.

“It’s up to the people to decide, it’s their money,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Bill Mertens.

He was referring to a request from the Lake Region Heritage Center to increase the number of mills appropriated to support the city’s museums.

George Zenk met with the commission Tuesday morning requesting their permission to add to the June ballot a request to increase the mills for the museums from 2.5 mills to a full three mills.

It would mean an increase in annual revenue for the Heritage Center amounting to nearly three times what it gets now from the county.

It will be up to the taxpayers to decide because it would mean an increase in taxes. According to County Auditor Elizabeth Fischer, the increase would be an estimated $2.25 more tax on property valued at $100,000.

The county voted unanimously to put the issue on the June ballot and let the taxpayers decide.

“It’s up to us to do our homework and let everyone know how important it is to the Heritage Center,” Zenk said.

Other business:

The commissioners received a report from County Agent Bill Hodous that details the economic impact of recent flooding experienced throughout the Lake Region, including inundated farmland and the loss of an estimated 500 or more jobs.

President Joe Belford thanked Hodous for the report saying he would use some of the information it contained when he goes to meetings in Canada where they will be discussing flooding.

Veteran Service Officer Earl Hanson reported he had heard nothing new on the proposed veteran’s clinic for Devils Lake. He is working on getting out into some of the smaller towns doing some outreach to veterans and will be setting up times and places in communities like Munich, Hampden and Lawton.

Rick Anderson talked with the commissioners about the grant they’d received for fixing the courthouse windows. Since the bids were under the grant amount, they decided to fix as many windows as they could and use the remaining amount of the grant for those repairs.

Emergency Manager Tim Heisler submitted for approval the newly updated Hazard Mitigation Plan for the county. “If a county does not have one of these in place, it is not eligible for disaster assistance,” he told the commission.

He expressed his concern about what’s coming this spring. “This lake could rise another two to three feet and we’re going to have problems everywhere,” he said.

At 9:30 a.m. representatives from two townships in the county faced off as they discussed the pros and cons of a portion of Dry Lake Township being annexed into Fresh Water Township.

Doug Goulding, representing Dry Lake Township, discussed the merger with the commission citing the statute in North Dakota law that allows for this because that portion of the township is cut off from the remainder of the township by the lake. “It is practical and convenient to be annexed to the adjacent township since the lake divides Dry Lake Township in two,” Goulding said. Mertens reminded the members of both township boards who were present that such a merger would be complicated and require them to work together to get everything accomplished.

A number of residents from both townships spoke of their concerns, though none opposed the action. Therefore the commission voted to grant the petition, reminding the townships that it was up to them to iron out the details.

The Ramsey County Water Resource District Board met with the commission and discussed a spillway that needs to be lowered near Larry Ivesdahl’s and Bob Freije’s properties.

They expressed their concern about the lake rising this spring and the roads around the area, including the Grahams Island Road.

The commissioners reported that they were meeting with Benson County about the Grahams Island Road later that day.

Highway Superintendent Kevin Fieldsend submitted his year end report and was congratulated on how good it was by Belford. The commission voted to allow him to purchase more cutting edges and to travel to Tomahawk, Wis., for a conference.

They voted on several listed items and adjourned the meeting to travel to Minnewaukan to discuss the future of the road to Grahams Island.