Board declares state of emergency

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners unanimously approved resolutions Tuesday declaring a State of Emergency in Brown County and requesting Gov. Mark Dayton to pursue a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the state including Brown County.

The Brown County Emergency Management office requested the resolutions be approved in order to provide assistance to municipalities, townships and county residents in response to severe storms since June 11. The storm damaged New Ulm, Evan, many townships, the county public drainage system, county roads and storm water systems.

The county emergency management office talked with residents, representatives of municipalities, township officials and the county highway engineer. The office estimated damages at more than $500,000. The county must have more than $90,625.50 in estimated damages to request a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

Shag Road erosion

Commissioners discussed possible funding options for a Shag Road resident regarding river erosion issues. In a June 18, letter to commissioners, Nancy Reseland wrote that she bought the property in June of 2007, never thinking she would have an issue with the river. However, she has lost more than an acre of land to erosion caused by spring flooding.

In a June 17, memo to commissioners, the Brown County Emergency Management and Water Planning Office wrote it has been involved with Reseland and her property since the spring of 2013 regarding the loss of land by Minnesota River erosion.

“Since about 1991, the property has lost about 100 feet as the river moves towards her home located on an outside river bend that absorbs the brunt of the river’s force,” the memo read. “Although the process has been exacerbated by heavy rain and added field tile installed, it is a natural occurrence.”

The memo added that Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hydrologists, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, Board of Soil & Water Resources and South Central Technical Service Area engineers estimated it would cost more than $500,000 to protect Reseland’s property with erosion control.

John Knisely of the county emergency management office found an NRCS program that could possibly fund up to 75 percent of the cost of moving the home on the same property. The county office will work with the NRCS State Engineer to see it if is feasible and contacted movers for cost quotes.

Planning & Zoning Administrator Laine Sletta said the NRCS State Engineer and other NRCS officials toured and photographed Reseland’s property Monday before discussing options to save it. “There may be some DNR and (HSEM) Homeland Security and Emergency Management help available,” Sletta said.

Assistant Planning & Zoning Administrator Desiree Hohenstein said available help will depend on what is approved in a disaster declaration. If the property is bought out, it could become a public easement for a future park.

72-hour hold contract

In other action, commissioners unanimously approved an Avera McKennan 72-hour hold contract that runs from July 1 through June 30, 2015 with a rate increase of $870 to $896 a day.

Contract wording states that Brown County would not be responsible for transportation or discharge planning for clients who are the financial responsibility of another county. The contract has been used a number of times with overflow from New Ulm Medical Center’s in-patient mental health unit. All but one of these incidents were covered by private insurance.

Employee adjustment

By a 3-2 vote with commissioners James Berg and Andy Lochner dissenting, the board adjusted the auditor/treasurer’s office counter employee position from 30 hours to full-time starting in July. The request was made due to the accrual of comp time and overtime hours.

In addition, it is anticipated that primary election voter turnout will be at an all-time high due to the District 88 referendum. The office will also experience transition when a new auditor/treasure takes office next year. The office will experience job responsibility changes and must train for conversion to a new tax system in the next few years.

In a separate County Board of Appeal & Equalization meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a resolution not to change the $452,400 2014 Estimated Market Value (EMV) of Jerome Graff’s 72.75-acre parcel.

The parcel has 40.5 tillable acres with an average CER of 87.26 and value per tillable acre of $10,035, two acres tillable with a small field adjustment of 20 percent and an $8,028 tillable acre value for 22.7 acres of pasture, 5.3 acres of waste and 2.25 acres of road. The County Assessor’s Office recalculated the parcel CER to 87.2.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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