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County Board Meeting and Solid Waste Public Hearing Nov. 17

Posted: 11/17/2020

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners moved its bi-monthly meeting to the county owned building at 822 Douglas Street in Alexandria to provide more room for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The November 17 meeting, the board meetings on December 1 and 15, and the Truth in Taxation meeting on December 3 will all be held at this location.

The meeting began with Horizon Public Health Administrator Ann Stehn appearing before the board to provide an update on COVID-19. She said she is sounding the alarm and asking for action. Stehn walked the board through data that showed the county’s positivity rate for the spread of the coronavirus has reached a concerning level and has surpassed that of the state. Stehn says the county has seen an explosion of cases which has led to an increase in hospitalizations. She asked board members to help public health officials with sharing information that will reduce the spread.

She wants Douglas County residents to encourage young adults to get tested to make sure they are not asymptomatic carriers and therefore spreading COVID without realizing it.  She also reminded them of the basics: wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands.

Board chairman Keith Englund thanked Stehn for her presentation and said, “I know this has really skyrocketed and we need to push safety.”

Public Works

Public Works Director and County Engineer Tim Erickson asked commissioners to pay a final bill to Central Specialties for work done on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1 in the amount of $42,877.11. The board approved paying the bill.

Chairman Englund asked Erickson about 34th Avenue in Alexandria which is CSAH 46. Englund had received a call while appearing on Open Line and the person was concerned there are no sidewalks in the area by the mall and that those walking on the road are potentially in danger especially as semi- trucks pass by. Erickson says he is very aware of the issue and he plans to bring it up at the county planning meeting November 18. Commissioner Charlie Meyer suggested working with the city to add lighting in the area.  

Land and Resource Management

Director Dave Rush reviewed the Restated Development Agreement for the purchase of land on Lake Ida’s Pilgrim Point. The county agreed to tell the story of the Pilgrim Point property through interpretive features which will be permanently affixed and maintained on the county park property. The revised agreement also substituted a donation of land for a donation of funding which will allow the county to purchase and access all the land at once. The closing is set for November 30. Chair Englund thanked all those who have worked long hours on the purchase agreement.

Commissioners approved the final plat for Bohemian Triangle in Lake Mary Township.

They approved the preliminary plat for Lakeview Estates in Brandon Township with seven conditions that include a permanent stormwater management plan.  

The preliminary plat for Horsefeather Acres in Millerville Township was approved. When the planning commission approved the plat, members said the two large lots on Wilkin Lake will coordinate well with the adjacent Tier 1 feedlots.  Englund commented that he likes that the county is including the Right to Farm wording in plat-approvals so property buyers are aware they are purchasing land near farms.  

Social Services

Laurie Bonds, Community Human Services Director, asked commissioners to approve two contracts for 2021. One is with REM Central Lakes, Inc. to provide semi-independent living services. The other is with West Central Community Action Program for Plus Kids which is a safe exchange and supervised parenting provider.

Auditor/Treasurer

Douglas County Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow provided commissioners with the latest internal request to spend CARES Act funding. This is federal funding provided to local governments to cover the costs associated with the pandemic. She also told board members that to date the townships of Lake Mary, Miltona, Spruce Hill, and Belle River have sent their unspent funds to the county, as has the city of Brandon. Cities and townships must send unspent funds back to the county which then has the option to spend them or send them back to the state.

The board approved the Housing and Redevelopment Authority appointments. Each board member appoints one person to the HRA Authority. They are eligible to serve a total of 5 2-year-terms.

The board recessed the meeting until 1 p.m.

At 1 p.m. the board reconvened for a public hearing regarding the designation of acceptable solid waste generated in Douglas County for delivery to the Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management Resource Recovery Facility. Douglas County and Pope County commissioners attended. The meeting was held in person at the Public Works building in Alexandria and virtually so members of the public could also attend.

Steve Vrchota, Executive Director at Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management, explained the hearing is part of a process to pass an ordinance requiring haulers to bring waste, generated in Douglas County, to the Pope/Douglas facility. Currently there is no such requirement. The county burns the garbage and generates steam.

West Central Sanitation officials were the only members of the public to submit a series of questions. One of the questions was how contracts with haulers will be negotiated. Vrchota assured commissioners he has been in contact with the haulers, including West Central Sanitation, and will continue to answer questions and work on contract language as the legal process allows.

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