National Guard discusses access to camp with Ramsey County Commission

Louise Oleson, Editor
The main gate to Camp Grafton off Highway 57 will close Monday Aug. 23 to allow for road repairs on the National Guard Facility. The former entrance off Military Road will be used until that project is completed.

As the many road construction and embankment raise projects go into full force around the area one concern has been access to Camp Grafton.

LTC Clark Johnson from the ND National Guard talked about the access issues with the Ramsey County Commission. He asked about using Military Road because they are going to be closing their front gate to repair their own stretch of road that begins at the highway and goes west into camp.

Johnson said they had been considering this repair a while and wanted to plan it in conjunction with the repairs being done on Highway 57 by the ND Department of Transportation.

They will be opening the former front gate located on the north side of the camp, off what is known as Military Road that runs between Camp Grafton and Lakewood.

That road has restricted load limits on it of 24 tons and he asked the commission to allow heavier loads, on occasion, as the guard needs.

“We have trucks coming in with heavy equipment that will definitely weigh more than the 24-ton restrictions,” he said.

“It won’t be every day, or several times a day, but it will be necessary.”

The plan is to close the east gate Monday, Aug. 23 mid-morning, if the weather cooperates it will only be shut down for approximately four weeks, however, it could be closed as long as Oct. 1, depending on circumstances. From the front entrance facility up and into camp their plan for the entrance road is to mill it down and put a concrete overlay. That’s a continuous pour and no traffic will be allowed until the concrete cures.

The question is, what's that going to do to that road?

According to County Roads Supervisor Kevin Fieldsend,  all other roads in the county have 80,000 ton-load limits. He said he was certain occasional loads over the 24-T limit would not harm the road, what hurts are the repetative truck loads - several times a day.

Because it is a Federal Aid road the county has jurisdiction. They asked Johnson to let them know when a big gravel project may warrant more use of the road. Jay Klemetsrud was present to represent the township and he said they didn’t have any problem with the camp’s plans. Therefore the county voted to grant the guard their request.

Other business

The meeting continued individual department budget presentations that had begun at 2:30 p.m. with Karen Halle from Lake Region District Health. She presented her department’s budget asking for about $800 more this year because of an estimated increase in employee retirement, otherwise, Halle said it’s pretty much the same as last year.

She also reminded the commission that all four counties they serve need to approve the final budget, that can be done via telephone early  in the Sept. 7 meeting.

Fieldsend briefly discussed progress on the Woods Rutten road project.

The commission tabled discussing the RZEDB funds and the Red River Basin Commission request.

They established 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. at the Memorial Building as the polling place for the upcoming fall election and approved the Blue Cross Blue Shield contract for 2011 which stays the same.

The commission by resolution cancelled the tax balances on county-owned property in Millers Subdividsion and Poplar Grove.

They approved the FEMA overtime hours for Fieldsend.

They also approved Otter Tail Power Company’s relocating five power poles.

Fieldsend told the commission that Todd Aronson asked for permission to construct an approach off old Highway 2 to access his field, that was granted.

He said he needed to order eight more bundles of cutting edges and have them delivered before winter, it’s in his budget, so it was approved.

Fieldsend also gave an update on the Fenster Slough project. Dirt has been augered in, one culvert is in and a second one will be in soon, then all that remains is rip rap and graveling. He said it should make the deadline of the 24th without any problem.

He also gave an update on the Fox Lake project.

The Woods Rutten Road project is one where they need to inform Bismarck that until they get the funding from the state and the feds, the county will have to front the cost of the project 100 percent.

“We need to let Bismarck know that the money needs to be here by Jan. 1,” he said.

“We have to do it, we could lose that road, it would be better to get it done,” he said.

The commission gave him the go ahead to first notify Bismarck and then to go through the process  to begin the project. Otherwise the shoulder will be washing out next year if the lake comes up again,  it’s risky to wait, Commission Bill Mertens said.

FEMA is all done inspecting county sites. There are two DeGroot Township homes that are stranded, Dan Erickstad and Richard Anderson. They’ve asked the guard to help them get out because they can't get a local contractor lined up. The problem is the cost.

Fieldsend said Greg Wilz, on behalf of the Corps, is working with the north-south road to raise it one foot out of the water 14 feet wide but the first time the wind blows it will just wash out, there is no money to rip rap that stretch.

For the east-west road Sopers is working on that. There is money to rip rap that road, but the problem is the 15 percent local match, according to Fieldsend, that’s the same situation on more than half the projects around the county.

Bill Fahey joined the meeting via telephone to discuss resolution  bonding.  He explained the only option before the county and asked them to act on a couple of motions to set the ball rolling.

He explained that according to the ND Century Code, the county could vote to issue the bonds without hearing or election because they’re operating under a disaster declaration.

The commission did vote to borrow funds for permanent grade raises and to repair roads.

Plus they voted to appoint a bond counsel and Northland Securities will represent them.

A special meeting  Thursday Aug. 26  at 7 a.m.  will further discuss bonding and the resolution. In the meantime Fieldsend will refine his numbers, too, to be as accurate as possible.