On Thursday morning 1-19-17 at 11:08 am the Todd County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two vehicle collision on Hwy 71 in Browerville. 25 year old Elise Hedman, of Little Falls, was traveling Northbound when she slowed for vehicles. 28 year old Kristofer Holden, of Osakis, was traveling Northbound behind Hedman’s car when he rear-ended Hedman’s vehicle. No one was injured as a result of the accident.
MAPLE GROVE — Motorists traveling on Interstate Highway 94 over the weekend will need take detours in Maple Grove due to the demolition of a bridge, according to a release from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Both lanes of traffic will be closed due to the project. The project is expected to begin at 10 p.m. on Friday and will reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday. Those traveling westbound will take a detour north on Minnesota Highway 169 will then go west on Minnesota Highway 610. Motorists traveling eastbound will take a detour east on Highway 610 and then south on Highway 169. The bridge being removed is at 101st Avenue North.
There’s a new push in Washington to take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species List in four states where the animal’s numbers have bounced back. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is one of the authors of a bill introduced Tuesday that would let those states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Wyoming – set their own policies for managing wolves, instead of having to go by the federal law, the Endangered Species Act. The state policies could include a hunting season to keep the wolf population in check.
If this idea of turning wolf management over to the states sounds familiar, that might be because we already did it five years ago. Then we undid it a few years later after a court ruling.
Back in 2012 the Fish & Wildlife Service took the gray wolf off the endangered list (“de-listed” it, some people call it) because biologists said wolf populations were healthy in those four states.
But that decision was challenged in court. And in 2014 a federal judge agreed with the challengers. The court ruling said even though its numbers had recovered in a few states, wolves are still found in only a small fraction of their original range – which used to be pretty much the whole country.
The new bill that would let the states manage their wolves has five authors, two Democrats and three Republicans. Besides Klobuchar, the other authors are the senators from Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Klobuchar said in a statement that during 30-plus years on the Endangered Species List wolves have repopulated Minnesota. She says there are more than 2,000 in the state now, which is above the goal set by wildlife managers.
The Duluth News Tribune notes that both the Senate bill and one in the House have provisions that say they’re not subject to review by a court.
01/16/17 17:28 12550 County 38, EAGLE BEND, MN 56446 Damage to Property
On Tuesday night 01/16/2017 at 5:28 pm the Todd County Sheriff’s office received a call of damage to property that occurred at the address of 12550 County 38, rural Eagle Bend. Amy Claseman called to report that sometime between 9 pm on Sunday night and 7:30 am Monday morning someone entered her property and threw multiple eggs at her residence. If you have information on this incident, please call the TCSO at 1-800-794-5733. The incident is under investigation.
01/15/17 19:33 27967 COUNTY 29, LONG PRAIRIE, MN 56347 Car Deer
On Sunday night at 7:33 pm (January 15th) Susan Georges of Long Prairie struck a deer on County Rd 29 near Mill Lake with her 2008 Mercury Sable. Minor damage and no injuries were reported.
After hearing discussion from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources personnel and Hartford Township members, the Todd County Board of Commissioner unanimously denied the land acquisition by the DNR of a property located about a mile and a half from Browerville. Beau Liddell, the area wildlife manager, along with Rick Walsh and Susan Makki, also from the DNR, presented the DNR’s desire to purchase this land-locked parcel. The parcel is located on County Road 14 and is 9.87 acres. Liddell said they have been working over the past year to acquire the parcel as an addition to the 132 acre Sheets Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). As background, Liddell explained that “WMAs are acquired and developed for purposes of protecting wildlife populations, as well as to provide compatible public recreation, such as hunting, trapping, wildlife-watching and hiking. Other activities such as horse, ATV and OHV riding are prohibited on WMAs.” The DNR—Section of Wildlife “presently manages 30 WMAs in Todd County encompassing about 7526 acres, or 1.2% of the county land base, and has several interests in purchasing this tract as an addition to the Sheets Lake WMA,” wrote Liddell in a letter to the county. Liddell further said that “the parcel, currently owned by JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., entered foreclosure and has been vacant since 2012. It was argued that the property does not have any legal access, and is bordered on 2 sides by the WMA. “...access to the north end of the WMA has always been poor, acquiring this parcel would enhance public access for recreational purposes, and significantly improve [the] capacity to manage wildlife habitat on that part of the WMA,” wrote Liddell. It was said that the previous owner was unsuccessful in selling the property prior to foreclosure and that the bank is not currently working with any other buyers. “Due to the lack of legal access and the overall poor condition of the buildings, it is highly likely that the property will remain vacant and continue to deteriorate. If the State is allowed to acquire the property, the DNR will pay all costs related to demolishing the buildings and sealing the well. Therefore, we believe that acquiring this property as an addition to the WMA would be the best solution to this situation,” said Liddell. The DNR requires county approval to purchase the land. Commissioner David Kircher said that members of the Hartford Town Board were present and that they were opposed to this sale to the DNR. He said that he had held discussions with Liddell and the town board on whether or not this was a land locked property. Liddell said that the legal description shows the property is landlocked. He said there would be no vehicle access only on foot. He added that if the property were sold to another buyer, there would be no guaranteed vehicle access to it. He said the state was not in a position to provide vehicle access. Eugene Irsfeld said that the road that goes to the property off County Road 14 was kept open to the hay shed. “We put gravel on it in 2010 because the DNRhad torn it up,” said Irsfeld. Liddell contended that the access was never verified. Walsh said that they would have to show that the access existed since at least 1940 which would be difficult for the bank or the previous owner to prove. Citizen Wayne Carstensen said that the road in question had been used as a bus turn around for years and he had been in the area his whole life. Liddell said that the WMA areas around this parcel had been purchased in 1963 and 1964.“It is still a road. You can’t take it from us just to take it,” said Carstensen. Liddell said that it may be different related to if the land was public land or private land. Carstensen said that they may own the land, but not the road. “If it was your own road you could tear it up, plow it up, plant it, do whatever you wanted to with it, but that wasn’t done,” said Carstensen. Makki said that the “underlying fee owner would own the road.” She said the owner could grant easements. “But there is no legal easement,” said Walsh. “The intent is not to damage the township. Having legal access to the property would only increase the value of the property,” said Makki. Commissioner Randy Neumann reminded the DNR members about the county’s 2005 No Net Gain policy. Liddell said that it was not legally binding according to the county attorney’s opinion at the time. There was some discussion on the taxes that would or would not be paid on the property if the DNR had ownership. County Assessor Chris Odden said that the DNR would pay three quarters of 1% of the assessed value. Neumann argued that the DNR does not pay school taxes. Walsh said that he understood that the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments were dispersed equally to all taxing authorities including the schools. Gaida confirmed that the payments were split out to the different entities. Liddell said that there is no access easement to the other end of the property either. “It [our access] has been solely at the discretion of the landowner on that end. We don’t have access at certain times depending on the time of the year or other factors,” said Liddell. One of the supervisors for Hartford said that he hardly ever saw anyone use the property at any time of the year and that he went past it every day. He added that he felt it would be a waste of an opportunity for someone to live on the property. Carstensen said that he was “totally against them buying this land. Totally.” Citizen Terry Rickbeil said that in the Hartford meeting records, the township was in full support of the No Net Gain Policy and that was the position they were still taking. Neumann commented to the DNR representatives, “At least you didn’t use Pheasants Forever to back door us on it.” Neumann made a motion to deny the acquisition and to show support of the township who is against it. Kircher made the second.“I usually don’t oppose these kinds of things, but I will respect the wishes of the town board,” said Kircher. A denial at this point would result in the DNR notifying the bank that they had not been successful. Makki said the property had been listed since 2010. She said they did not know what the bank would do. Liddell said in his letter that, “According to the bank’s attorney, it is not uncommon for large, national lenders to allow foreclosed properties such at this to go tax forfeit. If this acquisition isn’t approved and if the property enters tax forfeit status, not only might illegal activity on the tract increase, but the county would only receive an annual administrative PILT payment of $1.50 per acre, or $15 total for the parcel (based on 2016 rates). It’s important to note that if the DNR assumes control of property after going tax-forfeit, only the lower administrative PILT would be received in the future as opposed to the higher hunting PILT.” to this point, the bank has been paying the annual taxes. Auditor/Treasurer Denise Gaida said that the county has had many calls on this parcel by people interested in purchasing it, but haven’t had clear direction on who to contact. Kircher said that the big question remained on whether the parcel was land locked or not. He said this will likely come before the board again. By roll call vote, all five commissioners voted to deny the acquisition. Erickson said he too was listening to the town board’s request and that it was best at this time to deny the DNR’s request.
In other business:
Approved a one day Excluded Bingo Permit for the Todd County Council On Aging to hold a bingo at the Clarissa Ballroom on February 12.
“We have worked on this policy for about a year,” said Gaida who added that it is required and very in depth.
County Engineer Loren Fellbaum whose department also receives federal awards said that this policy will make “zero difference” in his department because the items in the policy are already standard practice.
Any department in the county which receives federal awards must adhere to the policy.
Todd County was approached by Long Prairie Packing Company, LLC to consider selling two county owned parcels that contain the Sheriff’s Impound Lot, Veteran’s Service Garage, and the Sentence to Serve Wood Sale Lot.
The county compiled a $277,183 cost estimate to provide for full replacement of these lots and publicly advertised to accept bids for these parcels with a minimum bid requirement that equaled or exceeded the replacement cost of these parcels
A sealed bid of $277,185 was received from Henry Street Properties, LLC (Long Prairie Packing) on January 10th.
The county will be leasing the parcels back from Long Prairie Packing until they have their new building(s) in place.
The Todd Wadena Community Corrections Department will relocate the Sentence to Serve Wood Lot to an area located at the Todd County Transfer Station.
An effort will be made to ensure that all costs associated with this project not exceed the original project cost estimate of $277,183.
The commissioners appointed Fellbaum to act as the County’s Project Manager to administer the purchase of the new lot from the City of Long Prairie and negotiate construction contracts and agreements, on behalf of the county, with purchasing authority up to a $25,000 threshold.
Fellbaum asked for the higher threshold so that he does not have to come back to the board for every $5000 item needed in regard to the construction.
Fellbaum said that he will use local contractors and suppliers as much as possible.
“I will be working with Sheriff Don through the process, too, to make sure the building is built according to his needs,” said Fellbaum.
Chairman Rod Erickson commented that a lot of pre-work had been done to make sure they would stay within the amount received from Long Prairie Packing.
Commissioner David Kircher asked if this was a contracted position and if there was a one year probationary period.
Both questions were answered “yes.”
It is anticipated that Hatch will have a three month review.
Kircher asked if they could set goals for Hatch at an upcoming work session so that he would have guidance on what was expected?
Erickson said that was a good idea and that they would plan for that.
The Treasurer’s cash balance on December 31, 2016 was $17,132,872.01
Kircher commended the departments for their work on keeping their budgets down to manageable amounts.
“The county isn’t bankrupt. We are working at a good pace and getting our reserves up,” he said.
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