Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 23, 2000

How do you change a lake's name?

By John Holler

Minnesota goes by the name The Land of 10,000 Lakes. In actuality, there are about 13,000 lakes in Minnesota, so what difference does one make, more or less?

To the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, apparently, it means a lot.

At the Oct. 17 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners conducted a public hearing attended by about 25 citizens on Lake Sylvia and Twin Lake, seeking to have the name Twin Lake removed from the name and call the entire lake area Lake Sylvia - a request that seemed to make sense to the board.

"I've lived around that area most of my life and the first time someone mentioned Twin Lake, I asked 'Where's that?'" Commissioner Ken Jude said. "The two lakes are connected and they're not looking to call it Lake Sylvia West and East, they just want it to all be one lake and one name."

The public hearing was held because of overwhelming support for the name change. Every resident on the two lakes were mailed cards asking their input on whether they supported the name change. A total of 283 cards were mailed back - 270 supporting the change and just 13 opposed. However, the commissioners realized that the process of holding a public hearing may well serve little purpose.

"To be honest, I don't know why we're even having this hearing," Commissioner Jack Russek said. "The DNR has said they won't approve the name change, so it doesn't seem like we're going to accomplish anything, regardless of what we think or the people on the lakes think."

Russek was right. Glen Yakel of the DNR, relayed a letter sent to the commissioner from DNR Waters Director Kent Lokkesmoe, telling the commissioners, "Any approval of naming lakes must also have the approval of the Commissioner of Natural Resources. The statutory guidelines would preclude the commissioner from approving the name Lake Sylvia."

Under DNR guidelines, if a lake name has not been changed for 40 years and is not deemed derogatory (such as Indian Lake), a name change is not allowed by state statute. The DNR has presented documents from "credible published sources" showing that Twin Lake has retained its current name for more than 80 years.

While it likely will have no impact on a final result, the board authorized Assistant County Attorney Brian Asleson to draft a resolution for the board giving its approval to the name change to be presented at a future board meeting. The board will not only submit the approval to the DNR, but also to state legislators as a different avenue of trying to get the name change through in the likely event the DNR turns down the change.

"The DNR has been quite clear that they won't approve the change," Jude said. "Approving the name change at the county level is as far as we can go. We'll do that, but, once that is done, it's really out of our hands."

In other items on the Oct. 17 agenda, the board:

­ authorized Jail Administrator Gary Torfin to obtain the names of three possible consultants to assist in assessing the problems of the security system at the county jail. Because the jail was built with a security system that had plans that weren't provided to the county because of trade secrets, repairing the problems are virtually impossible.

The operations of the jail have been greatly compromised by an ineffective intercom system that is in dire need of repair or replacement; and the security system consists of an obsolete mother board and individual address cards that are not only obsolete, but, according to the designer, the original plans no longer exist.

­ approved a resolution officially revoking a portion of CSAH 7 to the City of Clearwater. Considering that the segment of the road in question has already been reconstructed, Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said the timing was a little late to come to a vote of the county board.

­ approved paying $2,300 for developing a health and safety training plan for the operation of county vehicles. The county's administration department felt the money for the consultant should come from the Highway Department budget, since it is the department that will see the most benefit from having the plan done, but Russek said it will also incorporate the Parks Department and the courthouse maintenance crew, therefore it should be paid through the county's professional services budget. The board unanimously approved taking the money for the consultant from professional services.

­ named County Coordinator Dick Norman as the county's voting delegate at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust Dec. 4 in Rochester. Auditor/Treasurer Doug Gruber was named the alternate voting delegate. Norman serves on the MCIT's Board of Directors.

­ made no decision on how to determine a severance package for retiring County Recorder Marcia Lantto. The package was discussed at the Oct. 11 Personnel Committee meeting, but Commissioner Elmer Eichelberg said there were "too many gray areas" that hadn't been adequately determined - specifically more than 100 hours of unused sick/vacation time accrued before she took the job as recorder.

­ authorized signatures to obtain an additional $6,300 from the DNR for a snowmobile enforcement grant, which will allow the county to have additional snowmobile patrols on county trails and lakes in the winter months.


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