HJ/EDHerald Journal, Jan. 2, 2006

McLeod County projects benefit many

By Jenni Sebora

McLeod County is “keeping up with the times,” especially when it comes to areas of transportation and technology. The county’s most recent endeavor involves electronic filing of real estate documents.

In recent years, major changes in land development practices, mortgage financing, and conveyancing have increased the volume and complexity of the documents presented for recording at recorder’s offices throughout Minnesota, including McLeod County.

Just as rejection rates have increased, so has frustration with some aspects of the land records system.

Initiated in the year 2000, the state of Minnesota began investigating electronic filing of real estate documents, which Bob Horton of the Minnesota Historical Society stated is “the biggest e-government project underway in the state.”

A statewide Electronic Real Estate Recording Task Force (ERERTF) was established in 2001 to study the current paper based system and the feasibility of an electronic mode of real estate recording.

The task force is working to develop statewide standards that will assure efficient, secure, and consistent filing between any submitter and any county, which in the near future will include McLeod County.

“By this time next year, the e-recording, phase one, will be in place,” McLeod County recorder Lynn Ette Schrupp said.

Schrupp noted that shortly after standards were authorized, pilot counties were selected to receive pilot testing of the system, and these counties, Renville, Lyon, Roseau, Dakota and Hennepin, have implemented the system.

Pilot testing was divided into two phases, Schrupp explained. Phase one includes electronic recording of satisfactions of mortgage and certificates of release documents.

Phase two is already in the works and will include electronic recording of the mortgage, deed, certificate of real estate value, well certificate, and assignment of mortgage.

With completion of phase two, Minnesota will be the first state to completely automate the real estate recording process.

Schrupp, who has attended various trainings on this electronic recording, noted that there are major benefits to this electronic recording system.

“A totally automated system will require minimal staff, and the time to record a document will be reduced to less than one minute. It will also eliminate technical errors and expedite the transactions,” Schrupp said.

Members of the public and private sector in real estate, as well as real estate consumers, will all benefit from the enhanced efficiency of this electronic process.

Currently, the McLeod County board has approved the purchase of the electronic recording software. A resolution is then required for implementation; from there the resolution will go to the task force, Schrupp explained.

“There is still a lot of work to do until implementation (of the system), but it is in the works, and the county is on its way,” Schrupp said.

Trailblazer Transit

The Trailblazer Transit system was established in 1999 in its present state as a cooperation between both Sibley and McLeod counties to enhance transportation systems in the county, Ludwig explained.

“It is a general public communal transportation system that is available for almost anyone of any age for almost any reason,” McLeod and Sibley County Trailblazer Transit director Gary Ludwig said.

The dial-a-ride service will transport an individual within the county to one mile around the county’s border and to five external points, including the VA Hospital and the Waconia medical campus, Ludwig noted.

An individual who wants to use the service can call the dispatch service up to seven days in advance to negotiate a ride.

Ludwig also noted that there is a 10 minute window before and after the agreed upon time, which some people are not aware of.

The Trailblazer system also offers other services including a volunteer driver program, which allows people to schedule rides beyond the county borders.

Ludwig also noted that in January 2006, there will be another Trailblazer bus on the road, hopefully serving the eastern part of McLeod County.

A partnership between Trailblazer Transit and another entity in McLeod County has resulted in a “win-win” situation and positive results for both parties.

“A perfect match” is how Ludwig described the contract services between the Trailblazer Transit transportation system and the Adult Training and Habilitation Center (ATHC) in McLeod County.

Because the ATHC at the Hutchinson site had difficulty transporting a client with a mobility impairment, a partnership with the Trailblazer system was investigated and initiated about one year ago, ATHC director Lori Anderson noted.

“All of our buses have elevators (wheelchair lifts), designed to allow people with mobility issues to be able to use the Trailblazer system as well,” Ludwig explained.

Currently, there are three Trailblazer buses that transport ATHC consumers to the ATHC sites, two to Hutchinson and one to Winsted.

Anderson agreed that the partnership between the Trailblazer transit system and the ATHC has been a good fit.

“We are very pleased with the service that the Trailblazer system has provided for our consumers at both the Hutchinson and Winsted sites. The clients enjoy using public transportation to get to work,” Anderson said.

And it has been cost-effective for ATHC as well, Anderson noted.

“There are three less vans that need to go out, which means less maintenance and upkeep,” Anderson said.

Ludwig describes the partnership as a “hand and glove” fit, a “win-win” situation, providing benefits for the Trailblazer transit, as well.

“It (the contract service partnership) has provided Trailblazers with ridership efficiency and much needed revenue and has led to other service contract partnerships (with other entities),” Ludwig said, noting that contract services are not really the intention of the system, but are working out nicely and benefiting all parties involved.

To schedule a ride or to receive more information about the Trailblazer transportation system, call toll free 877-743-3828.

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