County considers transferring funds to heating-assistance program

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners will consider transferring more than $16,617 to the Salvation Army Northern Division on Tuesday for a heating-assistance program.

When Brown County Family Services (BCFS) administered the Energy Assistance Program in past years, it was active in soliciting funds for the Reach Out for Warmth Program that helped people who don’t qualify for federal or state energy assistance programs and found themselves without utilities, according to the Request for Board Action (RBA).

When the program was transferred to the Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), BCFS offered to transfer the funds with the program but MVAC declined the money. The funds were accepted by The Salvation Army, which was considered the best choice for BCFS to provide donors with an acceptable alternative to the program to which they had previously contributed, according to RBA.

In an Oct. 17 letter to BCFS Director Tom Henderson, Salvation Army HeatShare Program Director Mike McGlone, wrote that the program is designed to help seniors and disabled people plus families with household income interruptions with past due utility bills. It would only be used in Brown County and staffed by a Mankato-based caseworker with a toll-free phone number. HeatShare applications are done by phone interview and mail, according to the letter.

Last year, HeatShare helped 4,300 Minnesota families with more than $1 million in assistance, according to the letter. For more information, visit The toll-free phone number is 1-800-842-7279.

Commissioners will also consider:

Purchasing a 40-foot shipping container for $2,950 from AA Container Sales, Inc. with a shipping/delivery rate of about $4/mile if gas prices hold after Jan. 2, 2014. The contained will be used to temporarily store electronic waste at the Brown County Landfill. Total cost is estimated at $3,400, according to the RBA.

By the end of 2013, it is estimated that Brown County will have collected $1,100 from electronic waste drop-offs at the landfill, which means the container purchase would pay for itself within four years, according to the RBA.

The Brown County Solid Waste Advisory Committee reviewed several container quotes of similar quantity and size and recommended the purchase from AAA Container.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) requires the county to have a container that does not allow electronic waste to be exposed to the environment between pickups. In the past, the county rented a smaller shipping container from Mathiowetz Construction.

Authorizing the purchase of a pickup for the county highway department. Unit 49 was demolished in an accident this summer with $7,284 of insurance money received after the mishap. Highway department 2013 equipment purchases were $20,791 under budget, making $28,075 available to replace the truck using the 2013 budget, according to the RBA.

State bid prices received for a 3/4 ton pickup were $26,609.09 from Chuck Spaeth Ford and $28,330.07 from Nelson Auto Center Dodge. The highway department recommended the low bid.

Selecting a boring tile line quote along CSAH 10 in an erosion area near the Minnesota River. The river has been gradually eroding toward the CSAH 10 right-of-way over many years. In one area, erosion moved into the right-of-way. A guard rail was installed this summer for public safety, according to the RBA.

A University of Minnesota hydrologist hired by Brown County to analyze the erosion problem indicated a substantial amount of water is traveling down the river bluff underground at the hardpan layer, weakening the stream bank, which is a significant erosion cause, according to the RBA.

The hydrologist recommended a tile line be installed 15 to 18 feet deep along the south side of CSAH 10 to reduce water before it reaches the stream bank. Boring a tile line was a preferred option over open trench installation of a tile line to avoid causing a fissure line that could create a large slump, according to the RBA.

Quotes obtained were $46,660 for a total package job from H&D Underground Inc. Cross Country Underground Inc. offered to do boring only for $25,200 with the county supplying pipe, hand holes, crushed rock, hired jetter, supplying a back hoe to install hand holds. The highway department recommended the H&D Underground bid because the complete package has less uncertainty because the county would not have to supply materials, labor or equipment, according to the RBA.

Authorizing the City of Springfield to demolish blighted homes at 314 N Began and 320 W Central at a cost not to exceed $38,600 with the county paying a portion of the bid price. The county percentage would be paid with MVAC loan repayment funds. An assessment will be placed against the property for the county’s portion of the demolition with an agreement with the city that the county repayment of the assessment would take precedence.

The county board meeting starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 in the courthouse second-floor commissioners room.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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