Township officials voice concerns

SLEEPY EYE – After lengthy discussion Monday at the Eagles Orchid Inn, the Brown County Association of Township Officers unanimously approved a resolution for the County Ditch Authority to contract and pay for public ditch and tile repairs under public right-of-way (roads).

Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens said the county can handle the repairs.

New rural digital addresses were another sticking point. Several township officers said fire departments and semi drivers using GPS (Global Positioning System) had difficulty locating addresses close to county lines. “If your address is in a city other than the fire district you are in, it can be difficult,” said one township officer. “If you are doing mutual aid in another county, it can be a mess. I’ve seen fire trucks three miles away from where they should be.”

Another township officer said semis wound up at his farm there were supposed to go to Schwartz Farms.

The new ARMER radio system used by law enforcement was another contentious issue. Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann said radio boosters were needed to provide reception in some places. “Sleepy Eye really has some bad reception in spots,” Hoffmann said.

Overweight truckloads were another issue. Brown County Commissioner Jim Berg said the county approved the new motor vehicle license tax as a fairer way to pay for highway maintenance costs said to be rising 200 to 300 percent in recent years. Commissioner Andy Lochner said if the license tax were not used, higher road maintenance costs would come from real estate taxes, which he didn’t feel was as fair as using vehicle license fees.

Hoffmann asked township officers to tell people to call the sheriff’s office if they notice trucks with overweight loads that cause roads to wear out prematurely. “We need the public’s help. We can’t be everywhere. The State Patrol can pull elevator weight tickets for 14 days,” he said.

A township officer said crop yields are double what they were 15 to 20 years ago, which causes some drivers to haul heavy.

Prairieville Township Board member Tom Hirsch praised the county highway department for its work on resurfacing County Road 16 (former State Highway 258 between Highway 14 and Comfrey) that went back to Brown County recently. A township officer said CR 16 north of Highway 14 was used by many heavy haulers who also blew stop signs.

“Don’t be afraid to call us. Callers will remain anonymous,” Hoffmann said.

A township officer complained of manure haulers not cleaning up after spills on roads. “We have to clean up after sweet corn, why not [manure]?” said the officer.

“Give a call,” Hoffmann responded.

Region 9 Executive Director Nicole Griensewic said the organization should be called when grant writing is needed and is a fiscal sponsor for the Area Agency on Aging. “We have revolving loan funds for many purposes including micro-enterprises and tornado victims,” she said. “We helped get the $9 million grant to raise Highway 169 from Mankato to St. Peter so it won’t close as often due to flooding. We helped fund a new industrial park near Blue Earth.”

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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