Board approves creek proposal

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners approved an engineering firm’s $35,280 proposal Tuesday, to assist with the implementation of the County’s recent grant agreement for habitat improvements and stream bank stabilization for about two miles of Spring Creek.

Wenck Associates, Inc. of Maple Plain previously completed a preliminary design of improvements for the Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant application submitted last September. The firm will do field investigation, design finalization, issue construction plans and specifications and provide construction assistance.

Wenck’s cost estimate includes $5,350 for field investigation and data collection, $5,000 for final engineering design, and $24,880 for construction assistance on the project several miles south of Fort Ridgely.

The company provided $4,656.50 in pro-bono (work done free of charge) as part of the previous scope. An additional $350 in time and expenses will be provided pro-bono as part of the current scope.

Wenck will not exceed the authorized budget for the scope of services unless approved otherwise prior to proceeding.

The $355,150 project includes a $321,972 grant and $33,178 in county matching funds, $21,270 of which are used for grant and project administration costs. The firm would receive $289,000 for stream bank stabilization work, according to the RBA.

In other action, commissioners approved:

Awarding the CSAH 16 (old TH 258) urban grading, storm sewer, cold in-place recycle, overlay and aggregate shoulder project to the low bidder. Bidders were Central Specialties Inc. $4,337,149.29; Knife River Corp. $4,358,886.03; and Duininck Inc. $4,820,935.79. Engineering estimate was $4,970,751.66, according to the RBA. The county highway department recommended the low bid.

The project is scheduled to begin May 20, and be completed within 80 working days. The Comfrey portion must be brought back to at least a gravel surface within 30 days.

Awarded surface rehabilitation projects on CSAH 3, 11 and 19. Lone bidder is Midstate Reclamation, $1,155,802.58. Engineering estimate was $1,289,978.85. Projects are scheduled to begin June 3 and be completed within 40 working days not counting seal coating time.

An overweight permit request from Mathiowetz Construction for about 1,500 feet of CSAH 20 gravel, east of TH 4. The request is to allow hauling 4,000 cubic yards of sand from the Broich Pit on CSAH 10 to a grain bin construction site for Harvest Land Co-op. The County would reserve the right to withdraw the permit if road conditions deteriorate and would require Mathiowetz Construction to agree to repair that part of the road to pre-existing conditions.

Four Planning Commission recommendations. Permits are sought for business condominiums and an existing dog kennel in Cottonwood Township, and two livestock operations in Burnstown Township.

Commissioner Scott Windschitl questioned runoff issues for Terry and Joann Petersen’s application allowing construction of up to 10 business condominiums in Cottonwood Township, just north of CR 25 and west of State Highway 14, south of New Ulm.

Petersen said he planned to raise up his building and channel water to a nearby ravine.

“It’s not a real sharp ravine, I don’t know if all the runoff would run toward it,” said Brown County Zoning Administrator Laine Sletta.

County Administrator Chuck Enter recommended adding a storm water management plan as a permit approval condition, which was added to the application,.

A recommendation to appoint County Administrator Chuck Enter, Human Resources Director Mike Furth and Commissioner Dennis Potter to a preliminary committee to determine membership of a Salary Administration Task Force that would complete a 15-county salary survey on 60 to 70 positions. A similar task force was created in 1995 and 2001.

Brown County Assistant Auditor-Treasurer Jean Prochniak said personnel policy requires (salary) reviews every three years.

“It’s long overdue. When policy is tweaked, it should affect everyone,” Prochniak said. “Right now, policy doesn’t seem real fair across the board. I was told significant change doesn’t exist.”

Brown County Assessor Rita Treml said nearby county salaries need to be considered because some Brown County staff recently resigned to earn more money in adjacent counties.

Behavioral Consultant Paul Dietzman’s $89/hour family services contract, equal to other counties he works with, except one that he does minimal work for. Family service supervisors and case managers agree he has saved county taxpayers waiver money by preventing out-of-home placement costs.

In another matter, the commissioner received a museum buildings update from Brown County Historical Society Director Bob Burgess and County Liaison member and Brown County Commissioner Dick Seeboth. Facilities improvement ideas include a study of the aging HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system and window retrofit.

“We’re limping along, hoping it (HVAC) doesn’t fail catastrophically,” Burgess said. “I think the air conditioning is the main concern.”

Seeboth suggested creating a sinking fund to help pay for replacing aging equipment.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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