By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie High School students had an opportunity to see how the McLeod County Board works, and ask the board questions Tuesday, April 4.
The board, following its tradition of meeting in cities across the county over the course of the year, met at Lester Prairie City Hall, and began the morning with a forum for the students.
Board members introduced themselves and told the students what part of the county they represent.
The first thing the students wanted to know is how the county appropriates the money it spends.
They also asked the board members what made them want to serve on the board, what qualities are necessary to serve on the board, and what kinds of obstacles board members face.
After the forum, the students stayed for the first portion of the regular board meeting to observe how the board conducts business.
County Attorney Mike Junge presented his annual report.
He included a summary of felony and gross misdemeanor adult criminal charges filed in 2016.
The category with the most charges (72) was drug offenses, followed by driving while impaired offenses (59).
There were 36 assault charges filed, 17 driver’s violations, 16 charges for theft, 15 charges for violation of an order for protection or restraining order, and 12 charges for criminal sexual conduct.
There were fewer than 10 charges in each of the remaining categories.
There were a total of 323 adult felony and gross misdemeanor charges in 2016, compared to 276 in 2015.
Junge said drug-related matters are among the most significant issues his office encounters.
“Drugs are a very serious issue in our communities,” Junge commented.
He also noted child in need of protection or services (CHIPS) cases increased from 34 to 54 cases, and drugs in the home are often a factor in these cases.
Junge said some people claim they are only hurting themselves when they use drugs, but, in reality, they are hurting their families and their communities.
He described drug use as “a cesspool of bad news.”
“We can never be complacent about that,” Junge said.
Tax court settlement
Auditor-Treasurer Cindy Schultz Ford presented an update on the tax impact of a tax court settlement on properties owned by CenterPoint Energy Resources assessed by the State of Minnesota.
The tax impact for McLeod County is $15,578, plus $2,328 in interest paid.
The impact (increase) on other local jurisdictions include:
• City of Winsted, $7,270;
• Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District, $5,200;
• City of Lester Prairie, $3,734; and
• Lester Prairie School District, $1,052.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved award of a contract for bridge replacement on Hamlet Avenue in Glencoe Township to S.M. Hentges & Sons of Jordan for a low bid of $1,046,424, which is 9.8 percent less than the engineer’s estimate.
• awarded a contract for countywide pavement marking to Traffic Marking Services of Maple Lake for a low bid of $64,287, which is about 13.9 percent less than the engineer’s estimate. Funding is 90 percent federal and 10 percent local.
• awarded contracts for culvert installation to Wuetherich Drainage of Norwood for a low bid of $27,405, and culvert material and replacement projects to Cretex of Maple Grove for a low bid of $15,573. The culverts are located on county state aid highways 8, 15, and 19.
• approved a quote from Pellinen Land Surveying of Hutchinson to replace monuments at numerous public land survey section corners at a cost not to exceed $9,000.
• approved a contract with Duane Radtke, Radtke Sewer Service, for conducting septic inspections and soil verifications on an as-needed basis in the environmental services department.
• approved a large assemblies permit for the Winstock Country Music Festival Thursday-Saturday, June 8-10.