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Stevens Co. considers issues in ditch maintenance

STEVENS COUNTY - During a recess in their regular meeting on Tuesday, the Stevens County Board of Commissioners convened as the County Ditch Authority to hear updates on ditch maintenance and participate in a discussion with Kurt Deter, county ditch attorney, on "hot topics in the county ditch world," said County Coordinator Brian Giese.

"Ditches will be on your agenda more," Deter warned. People on ditch systems want to improve them, and many system are going through a redesign, he said.

Deter also offered some recommendations for good ditch policy - be proactive with maintenance, consider redetermining benefits when there are unfair situations, consider having property abstracts include county ditch systems, and develop and process for splitting benefits.

Giese also suggested that the county should develop a more formal ditch policy to address these issues and create a citizen group to help develop the policy.

Giese updated the board with progress that had had been made in county ditch improvements:

• Eleven miles of cleaning work is complete in County Ditch 1, but there will still need to be some leveling and grass areas to seed.

• Fridget Excavating started open ditch cleaning in County Ditch 18, and will likely finish work next week.

• Open ditch repairs should be underway on JD 2, County Ditch 25 and County Ditch 10 soon, time permitting.

• A 24" tile on County Ditch 16 will be repaired, since there was no long-term solution determined regarding replacing the tile during discussions earlier this year.

Other business

• Giese provided the board with an update from the Highway Department. Giese said the department is currently preparing for the winter season and hauling out available rock piles until the weather does not cooperate.

• The board approved a contract of $950 per month with Traverse County Family Services to take over long-term care cases. Human Services Director Joanie Murphy told the board that a financial worker from Traverse County would be in Stevens County two days a week to work with residents in this area.

• The board approved two agreements with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, one to be the agent to administer funds for a sign replacement project in the townships and one revision to a currently in-place agreement as part of collecting state and federal aid.