Frustration grows among Devils Lake residents, officials

Mike Bellmore, Features Editor
County Commissioner Ed Brown expressed his frustration at the flooding situation during the meeting on Tuesday. “We need to move forward - now,” he said. “Dig a channel and get started.”

Frustration and anger levels were high at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Ramsey County Commission at the Courthouse in Devils Lake.

Tami Tollefson, who lives in rural Ramsey County, started things off with her predicament of not having access to her home because of flooding Devils Lake.

For the past six weeks or more, she has been forced to navigate by duck boat and a guide rope to her home through a 250-foot stretch of water than ranges from 1-3 feet.

“I?need emeregency access to my home,” she told the commission. “I?just want a dry path for a 4-wheeler.”

“I want answers now. No more delays.”

States Attorney Lonnie Olson told the commission he doubted whether money could be spent on a road to access private property.

County Highway Superintendent Kevin Fieldsend said he knows of no funding either for such a project.

Tollefson feels she is being bounced back and forth  between agencies, and is just wants “small emergency fixes” for a few spots.

“I’d like to know why the National Guard can’t help out,” she questioned.

Commissioner Ed Brown said he feels the county and township need to meet because the township needs to take the lead to help resolve the situation.

A potential meeting is in the works. Commissioners felt some townships may be in need of some guidance regarding similar issues.

In other matters, the Commission heard from Veterans Officer Earl Hanson, Extension Agent Bill Hodous and Emergency Manager Kristen Nelson.

County Highway Superintendent Kevin Fieldsend updated the commission on the many ongoing road projects in the Lake Region.

The commission also set a date of July 5 for a surplus supply sale.

It also denied a request for overtime hours from Tax Director Jerry Ratzlaff.

Commission Chairman Joe Belford recommended the county send a letter to Governor Dalrymple similar to the one sent by the city requesting immediate action on the flooding in the Lake Region.

That brought a strong measure of support from an obviously frustrated Commissioner Ed Brown.

“I?think we as a county and the city should just go ahead with the old ‘Glenn Olso’ plan for an outlet,” he said. “We need to move forward - now. Dig a channel and get started.”

Olson is a former city engineer for Devils Lake who devised a plan to get water off Devils Lake years ago. He has since passed away.

Tax Director Jerry Ratzlaff was on hand for a tax equalization meeting, but many aspects of that were tabled because of the ongoing issues in the county.

Many of the proposed tax increases were minimal, but inaccessible because of water. The notices were sent only to those with proposed increases of 10 percent or more.

“We need to fine-tune things a little more,” said Ratzlaff.