BY JOHN HOLLER
When Wayne Fingalson first began working for Wright County, Gerald Ford was the President and Wright County was viewed as a rural haven away from the Twin Cities metro area. In the 37 years that have passed since he became the assistant highway engineer for the county, he has witnessed a population explosion and Wright County transform from rural farm communities to inclusion in the Twin Cites metro.
At the May 29 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, one of the consent agenda items included Fingalson’s resignation. After 37 years of service, the last 31 as highway engineer, Fingalson informed the board that Aug. 7 would be his final day on the job.
"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to administer the highway department for the past 31 years," Fingalson said in his resignation letter. "Combining these years with my six as assistant Wright County engineer and six years with MnDOT in various position gives me 43 years of fulltime public service."
Fingalson has witnessed many of the changes that have taken place in the county, primary among them finding ways to maintain a road system for a county that has doubled in population on his watch. Where there once were farm fields are housing developments. He said the portion of the county along I-94 is barely recognizable from what it was when he took over.
In his time with the county, Fingalson has occasionally been at odds with the county board as to how to best administer the county’s road system, but said that he has enjoyed his time working for the citizens of Wright County and, if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t change a thing.
"I’ve been thinking about this decision for some time," Fingalson said. "I’m turning 65 on Aug. 6 and I kind of zeroed in on that date for a while. As much as I’ve enjoyed my job in Wright County, there comes a time when you know that it’s time to get on with the next chapter of your life. I don’t know what I will do, because I can’t picture myself going into full-blown retirement, but I want to spend more time with my family and believe that the timing is right to make the move."
The board accepted Fingalson’s resignation and authorized the administration department to advertise for his replacement.
In other items on the May 29 agenda, the board:
REFERRED a proposed policy dealing with county ditch repairs to the ditch committee of the whole, which is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. following the June 26 board meeting. The board talked about making changes to the policy in 2006, but the process was never followed through. The county ditch system was primarily built between 1890 and 1925 with federal wetland grant money. Minnesota adopted its own drainage laws in the late 1800s and, for the most part, most of the laws still read as originally worded.
APPROVED seeking bids for a proposed refinancing of county bonds that were initially approved in 2003. The matter was heard at the May 15 meeting, but, while the numbers were accurate in terms of county savings, the bond itself was incorrectly identified as being county sewer revenue bonds. The bonds being proposed for refinancing are actually capital improvement bonds that were sold to finance county projects from 2003-07. With the current bond market, the county is expected to save approximately $15,000 a year on the bonds, which run through 2023.
REFERRED discussion concerning repairs to the Human Services Building parking lot to the building committee.
REFERRED to the personnel committee discussion of the hiring of two summer interns for the Information Technology Department.
APPROVED obtaining cost estimates to conduct a redetermination of benefited landowners along Joint County Ditch 14, which is shared by Wright, Meeker and McLeod counties. The last redetermination of benefits along the ditch was done in 1970.
SCHEDULED a committee of the whole meeting for 10:30 a.m. following the July 10 board meeting to discuss a proposed storm water and erosion ordinance, watershed project funding strategies and county-based conservation incentives.
APPROVED three dates as committee meeting dates during the summer months, as opposed to the twice-monthly committee meeting dates during the rest of the calendar year. The dates selected were June 20, July 18 and Aug. 15. County Coordinator Dick Norman said the dates were selected in order to accommodate staff availability, scheduled vacations and for to help plan for the budget committee of the whole meetings in August and September.
ANNOUNCED the cancellation of the July 24 board meeting due to five Tuesdays in the month.
AUTHORIZED removal of beavers that created a blockage along County Ditch 10.
SET a Joint Ditch 15 meeting for Friday, June 1, to approve a proposed crossing of the ditch resulting from the CSAH 3 construction project. The project will require new culverts to be installed.
APPROVED a charitable gambling permit for the Dassel-Cokato Regional Ice and Sports Center for a fundraising raffle.