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home : government : government May 24, 2016

3/20/2014 11:16:00 AM
County construction starts in Red Wing

by Paul Martin

The start of spring means construction season in Minnesota. Already, an empty lot stands just uphill from the Government Center in Red Wing where the Public Health Building used to stand.

On March 18, Goodhue County Board approved a $350,000 contract to draw up detailed plans to renovate and extend the historic Citizens Building. The building is on the corner of West Avenue and 5th St. West. Efforts by the County to sell it were unsuccessful, and it became clear that such a rebuild was the best option. The project includes a complete remodeling of the existing 18,000 square feet, four-story building, plus building a 9,500 square feet extension. The call for bids is planned for early June, with work hoped to start on August 1.

When work is completed, the building will achieve the County's goal that all the staff of the now-amalgamated Health and Human Services Department will be housed under one roof. There will be a safe and secure environment for staff and clients, with a fully-accessible entrance to a main lobby at ground level. The designs clearly mark off the extension from the original building, which is an important consideration when remodeling a historic building. Drawbacks of the project are that, if extra space is ever required, only limited expansion could take place on the site; and it will not provide any extra out-of-hours meeting space.

New State Law needed to Retire Disused Landfill

Public Works Director Greg Isakson reported on County discussions with the City of Red Wing about the disused landfill on Bench St., Red Wing. The landfill closed in 1997, but was not passed over to the State for inclusion in the PCA's (Pollution Control Agency's) closed site program. If the State takes it over, the County will be relieved of any possible future liability claims.

The program is now closed, but State Rep. Tim Kelly believes he can draft a law to cover handing over the Bench St. site. He has not been able to do so in the past. Since the law would need to have its first Committee hearing by March 21, there is a very short "window" of time to act. The cost to the County would be about $1.8 million, and to the City about $400,000.

Before the Board was a resolution of support for Kelly's efforts. "We missed this chance four years ago," said Commissioner Rich Samuelson. "We need to take it now." County Attorney Steve Betcher also urged support. "It will be very helpful for the Board to support Rep. Kelly's work in principle, with our agreement to meet our financial obligations."

Not so fast, thought Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel. "I cannot vote for this resolution today until I see what I am voting for," he said. "I want the bill attached to the resolution as an appendix. We all know how bills can end up very different from how the first proposal looks. Bureaucrats may add things that put the cost way up."

Commissioner Ted Seifert regretted this approach. "It will be counter-productive to go to the state without a unanimous vote of the Board," he said. "We should delay the vote until we can do that."

The Board agreed to table the vote until the final shape of Kelly's proposed law is known, and then to call a special meeting to vote their support. Meanwhile, they requested Administrator Scott Arneson to send a supporting letter.

Robinson Confirmed as Veterans Service Officer

Without debate, the Board confirmed the appointment of Lyman "Robby" Robinson as County Veterans Service Officer, effective March 21. Robinson succeeds Bob Davis, who retired on February 28 after 23 years service. Robinson has been VSO for Washington County, and also serves as Mayor of Cannon Falls.

They also voted to invest further in updated IT in the Land Use Department, to enhance the County's property viewing website, and in the Human Resources Department, for payroll administration.

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