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Jeanne Ennen elected Stevens County Board chair

Commissioner Jeanne Ennen was elected chair of the Stevens County Board of Commissioners for 2014 on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

MORRIS – The Stevens County Board of Commissioners unanimously elected Commissioner Jeanne Ennen to serve as chair and Commissioner Donny Wohlers to serve as vice chair at their annual meeting on Tuesday.

As part of the largely procedural meeting, the board also appointed County Coordinator Brian Giese as clerk to the board, selected 9:00 a.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month as their regular meeting time, and set gopher and flicker tail bounties at $1.

Highway Department responds to snow and ice, plans for 2014

Stevens County has spent slightly more than average, about $72,200 total, on snow and ice control during the snow season thus far, Giese told the board during an update on the Stevens County Highway Department.

The county also performed $14,700 in snow and ice control work for the 14 townships and three cities that the department serves, Giese said.

The department is waiting to hear back from the state on plans for two overlay projects, one on County State Aid Highway 22 and one on CSAH 4. The 2014 construction season will likely include some sealcoating on CSAH 5, 18 and 20 and County Road 68, Giese said.

Commissioner Bob Kopitzke asked Giese how long it had been since these roads had sealcoat added. Giese said none of the proposed routes had sealcoating since they were built.

“There’s an internal debate with myself whether sealcoat is necessary,” Giese said. “It’s a high-risk, high-reward type of thing.”

As pavement ages it can come apart on the surface. Sealcoating can help extend the life of pavement, but if pavement is replaced on schedule the sealcoating may not have been necessary to prevent a damaged road service, Giese said.

“Of course the pavement would be in worse condition, but it could potentially make it there without dangerous, significant issues,” Gise said.

And if overlay projects get delayed because of shifts in funding, a skipped sealcoat could have more significance, said Giese.

In addition to some potential equipment purchases like a tandem truck and skid steer, the 2014 budget for the Highway Department also includes $20,000 to develop construction options for the department’s shop.

Giese told the board he would like to start researching the project by inviting engineers with Widseth, Smith and Nolting of Alexandria to make some recommendations about what might be plausible and share some concept ideas for the building.

Other business

  • The board approved a contract for Stevens County Attorney Aaron Jordan to serve as the city attorney for Hancock. Under the contract, staff in the county attorney’s office will prosecute gross misdemeanor, misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor and ordinance violations that occur within Hancock city limits as well as represent the city on civil matters at a rate of $110 per hour as needed. Jordan now serves as city attorney for Morris, Alberta, Chokio, Donnelly and Hancock.
  • The board approved $6,097 in annual dues to the Association of Minnesota Counties for 2014. In 2013 the county’s membership was $5,898.
  • The board approved a payment of $265 to Steve Schuster following damages that occurred during a repair project on County Ditch 3. In a letter to the board, Schuster requested $565 in damages for some salvaged fence posts and barbed wire that were inadvertently buried and for a tree that was removed. The board voted to pay Schuster $1 per fence post and $15 for the barbed wire for a total of $265.