Wright County Board Minutes

September 21, 2004

The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Mattson, Eichelberg, Russek and Sawatzke present.

Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes of 9-14-04, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Aud./Treas. Item #4, “County Ditch 34” (Russek); Item For Consid. #2, “AMC Policy Committee Meeting” (Mattson). The following item was removed from the Agenda to be discussed at a future date, “Request For Repair County Ditch #33” (Hiivala). Dee Lasham had been in contact with Hiivala and requested this action. Sawatzke said that discussion on the Pelican Lake access would occur at the end of today’s meeting if residents from the area were present at that time. Russek moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.

On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:


1. Performance Appraisals: L. Herwig, K. Labo, Aud./Treas.; A. Gilbertson, Ct. Admin.; J. Klein, P&Z; A. Richardson, Recorder; C. Engel, M. Lauer, E. Leander, C. Poirier, Sher./Corr.

2. Claim, DLR Group, $4,944.96.

3. Refer Human Services Compensatory Time Report To Personnel Committee.

4. O/T Report, Period Ending 9-10-04.

5. Approve Charitable Gambling Application LG220 & Waive 30-Day Waiting Period, Friendship Ventures (Corinna Twp.).


1. Refer To Personnel Committee IT Personnel Issues:

A. Need For 24/7 On-Call IT


B. IT Interns.

C. IT Staffing For 2005.


1. 9-13-04 Parks Commission Minutes.


1. Acknowledge Appointment, Sgt. Todd Hoffman, Lieutenant, Eff. 10-01-04 (Step J) & Authorize Replacement Of Sergeant Position.

2. Acknowledge Resignation, Thomas Groniga, Communications Officer, Eff. 9-20-04 & Authorize Replacement.

Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, introduced discussion on Ditch #34. Russek viewed the ditch yesterday and said it appears to be a problem with a 6”-8” tile and not a major cleanout. Russek moved to authorize obtaining two quotes for backhoe work, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0. The backhoe work will allow them to view the tile to determine what repair is needed.

On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to schedule a Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 10-12-04 at 10:30 A.M. to discuss Levy Trend Analysis.

The claims listing was reviewed. Mattson referenced Page 15, MN Safety Council claim, for the purchase of three defibrillators and questioned where they will be placed. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said a defibrillator was purchased for each of the three buildings. The County will be reimbursed for two of the three defibrillators. Mattson moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.

Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, introduced Ron Pera and Mike Rosonke of the Open Trails ATV Club who were present to discuss the possibility of creating ATV trails in the Wright County area. A presentation was made to the Parks Commission at their 9-13-04 meeting. and the recommendation was for the County to be the local government sponsor for the ATV Club. The club is a quad-county club which serves Wright, Sherburne, Stearns and Benton Counties. Their goal is to establish designated ATV trails using portions of state, county and township roads and road rights of way. This would not include all roads and right of way but just the portions that the road authority would designate as trail segments. Rosonke said their Club is well aware of ATV issues relating to destruction. Their goal is to take a proactive approach and have a designated trail to alleviate some of these problems. Through the grant in aid account, funding would be available for repair, maintenance, and the building of the actual trails, as well as law enforcement. The grant in aid program is similar to the snowmobile grant in aid program. The Club has worked with the Wright County Sheriff Department and DNR on Youth ATV Safety Training. In 2004, 6 classes were held (4-Wright County, 2-Sherburne County) certifying 177 students. The Club also met with the Middleville, Marysville, Woodland and Victor Townships on the possibility of establishing trails and the Clubs objectives. The Club would work with the townships to design a route. A preliminary route within these 4 townships has been discussed. The larger scope of the project may entail connecting the route with a trail routed through Sherburne County up to Walker, Minnesota. Rosonke said the townships were receptive. Currently, there are over 7000 ATV’s registered in Wright County with 25% being registered within the last two years. The Club has also approached the snowmobile club. The first discussions were not positive as the snowmobile club did not want ATV’s using their trails. Recent discussions have been more positive. Russek questioned ATV use of snowmobile trails as those trails cut through farm land which will have crops during the summer month. Rosonke said that another proposal is to have trail heads within the townships. These would be areas used for unloading ATV’s. He felt a positive impact could be realized by local businesses being patronized (gas stations, restaurants).

Mattson attended the Marysville Township meeting where the same presentation occurred. Mattson suggested at that time that a meeting be held with the Sheriff, County Attorney and Highway Engineer to discuss problems associated with ATV’s. Mattson said people may not realize that once they are off a road it is private property. Not the same amount of damage occurs with a snowmobile as with an ATV as ATV’s are driven in summer months. He suggested the ATV Club inform citizens of what they are working on as there are concerns. Rosonke was aware of both the positive and negatives of ATV’s and said, as seen in all organizations, a small percentage of ATV users cause the problems. The Club’s objective is to alleviate some of these problems. They have worked with the Sheriff’s Department to create educational posters and also provided information at the Wright and Sherburne County Fairs.

Eichelberg attended the Parks Commission meeting where similar concerns were discussed. What is proposed will be a slow process and discussions will need to be held with property owners. He understood that the Club is looking for an agency to become the local government sponsor for the grant-in-aid process. Eichelberg said the workload is on the ATV Club to make this a reality. Pera said funding provided through grant-in-aid would also assist with road grading and law enforcement. Sawatzke said Sherburne County is strict on usage of ATV’s, even on private property. He had concern with one area in Wright County becoming the ATV loop. With regard to usage on township roads, Pera said ATV’s can be used unless the Township has made a law against this use. If land receives trail designation, the ag zone does not apply. Designation is up to the road authority. The Club has worked with the State to assist with trails in northern Minnesota and with trail maintenance/repair.

Heeter viewed the request as a solution to some of the problems associated with ATV’s. She supported their work and partnering with them. Russek extended thanks to the Club for providing safety training. Pera thanked Rockford Township for allowing use of their hall to offer classes. Sawatzke felt he could potentially support the request but felt the townships’ input was a key component. In the future, a resolution of support may be requested from the townships. If approved, the ATV program would require the adoption of a resolution of support annually. The Club would provide paperwork to the County on maintenance, trail routes, etc. which the Auditor and Mattice would have to sign and forward to the State. The State would send a check to the County and the County would reimburse the ATV Club. The Club would need to work with the Highway Department, Mn/DOT and the townships to obtain easements (submitted with the application packet). The easement would provide the designation of the ATV trail allowing for use outside of the ag limitation. The townships would need to support the route and once planned, a transportation committee meeting (or meeting with the Highway Department) would be held to obtain ROW easements on connecting routes. Law enforcement would also need to be addressed. Mattice has worked with the Club for over a year and they have also met with Mn/DOT. The application would not be submitted until the routes are planned. Mattice said for the Club to continue, they would need support of the County Board to act as the fiscal agent. Eichelberg moved for the County Board to support the idea of an ATV Club to allow the Club to move forward, seconded by Heeter. Sawatzke said feedback is needed from the townships. In addition, citizens on any trail routes would be allowed input. He did not want the motion to indicate approval by the Board. Eichelberg said if the motion were approved today, a meeting would be held with the State and Highway Department. Mattice brought this forth today to educate the Board on the efforts of the Club as there had been feedback after the presentations were held in townships. The action today would indicate the Club has the support of the County Board if things were successful at the township level. Sawatzke said the motion would not be above or beyond that. Heeter said the second to the motion was to get the process moving. Townships would have to support the request first. Mattson said the western portion of the County is upset on what has transpired. He supported the idea but not the trails until everything has been laid out. Sawatzke’s interpretation of the motion was that the County Board would keep an open mind on this and be supportive if all issues fell into place including township, citizen, highway and Mn/DOT issues. Mattson said his support of the motion did not indicate approval at a future date. Mattice felt there were three options: 1) continue what is currently being done; 2) ban ATV use completely; or 3) work with the ATV Club. The motion carried 5-0.

On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to schedule a Snow/Ice Control Committee Meeting on 10-05-04 at 3:00 P.M. The meeting will be held at the Public Works Building.

Mattson provided an update on the AMC Policy Committee Meeting he attended last Wednesday. Discussed were the problems associated with the U of M Extension Service. Mattson was appreciative of all those who participated in the discussion.

Russek congratulated Tiffany Ogle on representing Minnesota in the Miss America Pageant.

Bill Weldele brought forth concerns on the Pelican Lake access owned by the DNR which recently opened. Weldele said a person launched their boat at the access today which positioned the vehicle perpendicular in the road. Mattson had been in contact with the office of the DNR Commissioner trying to obtain an answer on what happened with the access. Sawatzke said gravel was placed on the DNR property without a County permit. There are currently no parking signs in the area and two signs indicate stopping or backing up a vehicle is prohibited. Sawatzke directed discussion to Ted Holker, a member of a local sportsman’s club. He inquired what the position of the club was. Sawatzke said the reason the access was closed was due to safety issues. Holker said that their club discussed this issue in recent years and understood that the safety factor had to be considered. He understood that if the water level receded to a certain point, the access would be re-opened. Sawatzke said it was always the Board’s intent that if the water receded to a point which allowed for available space for launching a boat the access would be reopened. There is another landing to the north owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Mattson inquired whether vehicles could be removed at their own expense since the access has been closed. Holker said that many duck hunters come from out of the County and it would be unfair to them not knowing the issues that have transpired. The stakes blocking the area had been taken out. Sawatzke said the sign indicates the access is closed. He questioned what type of message was being sent by the fact that the DNR placed gravel in the landing. He was concerned with safety if the access were used. Eichelberg suggested the Board Chair and/or Asleson meet with the DNR as soon as possible. Sawatzke felt the County should await information through the contact Mattson had made.

Sawatzke asked Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, what authority the DNR would have to remove the sign at the landing (within the County’s right of way and placed at the County’s expense). Asleson responded that Martha Rieger from the DNR had contacted the Wright County Highway Engineer by email last Thursday. Asleson understood Rieger and her superiors were on a field trip about 3 weeks ago. The DNR indicated that the County did not have the right to place the sign indicating the access was closed. Rieger contacted the Highway Engineer and indicated that either the DNR or the Highway Department could remove the sign. As the road authority, the County can do reasonable regulation of access to County roads. If the property were owned by a private owner, they would be allowed to access the road somewhere on the property. Asleson was unsure whether the County would have to allow them access to the road. The County Board took action in July, 2003 to place a sign stating the access was closed. He was unsure of what transpired last Fall during hunting season. The recent purchase of land to the north by the US Fish & Wildlife Service should provide an access in the future. The large question would be what happens to this access. Asleson felt that the actions to remove the sign were possibly done without knowing the history of why the County had placed the sign in the first place. Asleson wanted the opportunity to meet and discuss the history with the DNR. Russek said the County has deemed this access to be a safety hazard for a boat launch and questioned whether the DNR could overrule that decision. Heeter said the County would not have answers today with regard to the DNR. Sawatzke said to create more controversy, the DNR has mentioned making this a permanent landing. In the past couple of years, their remarks have indicated they would close this landing if an alternative sight was found. Asleson said that those who duck hunt use this access as they can enter southern portions of the Lake that would not otherwise be accessible with a motored boat. He favored posting the access for carry-in boats versus the possibility of issuing tickets or having a deputy present. The other option would be to install posts to prevent backing into the landing. Asleson said he would contact the Highway Engineer and the DNR on this issue. Sawatzke stated that the position of the County Board is the access is closed due to safety issues. Anything staff could do to promote that the access is closed would be supported by the Board. Weldele indicated that the access was not used last year as there were steel posts blocking the access. They have since been removed. Mattson left the meeting for a short time and returned to indicate that he had contacted the DNR. They were also meeting to come up with a solution, but their position is that it is an official access so the County cannot close it. Asleson said that the County and DNR have different authorities. The DNR has the authority to close a lake access. The County’s authority relates to closing access to a County highway. Mattice met with the DNR enforcement division last Fall on a different issue and they indicated it would be legal for a person to access a lake using the County’s right of way. Sawatzke said it would not be legal if the vehicle had to stop or back down the road. It is not legal on any road to park perpendicular to impede traffic. Mattson will continue to work on this issue and provide Asleson with the appropriate contacts at the DNR.

Bills Approved

Brian Abrahamson $282.00

City Albertville 5,086.10

James Alsdurf PH D 1,500.00

American Business Forms 152.14

American Health Care Supply 321.69

American Irrigation & Turf Sup. 161.84

Ameripride Linen and Apparel 394.39

B & B Products-Rigs and Squa 473.18

B & D Plumbing/Heating 980.00

Bristows Kawasaki & Polaris 218.21

Buffalo Hospital 8,400.00

Buffalo Hosp.-Otpt. Commerc. 298.00

Council on Educ. in Manage. 349.00

Days Inn 357.21

Decorative Designs Inc. 175.53

Kurt Eich 100.00

Tom Feddema 202.13

General Pallet Inc. 440.00

Hawthorn Suites Duluth 424.88

Amy Hertzog 161.25

The Inn on Lake Superior 183.06

Intereum 4,532.11

Interstate Automotive 133.27

JR’s Appliance Disposal Inc. 1,150.00

M Litfin & Sons Inc. 319.50

Marco Business Products 1,240.52

Denise McCalla 243.54

The Metro Group Inc. 3,948.17

Midland Corp. Benefits SVC 750.00

Richard Miller 100.00

Minn. Corrections Assoc. 675.00

MN Assn. of Assessing Ofcrs. 130.00

MN Safety Council 5,137.56

Morrison Co. Sheriff 1,900.00

Office Depot 3,249.59

Photo I 522.89

Power-Phone Inc. 289.00

Qwest 11,622.71

Reed Construction Data 305.60

Augie Riebel 100.00

Russell Security Resource Inc. 448.47

Shell Fleet Plus 933.95

St. Cloud Medical Group PA 259.58

State of MN Intertech Group 965.00

State of MN-Info Tech Div-R HA 262.31

Total Printing 1,815.29

Wabasha Co. Court Serv. 300.00

Wright-Henn. Electric 835.46

28 Payments less than $100 1,359.05

Final total $64,189.18

The meeting adjourned at 10.27 A.M.