By John Holler
Despite numerous road improvements made in recent years, Wright County remains one of the most deadliest counties in the State of Minnesota in terms of traffic fatalities. In an attempt to help reduce those troubling numbers, the Wright County Board of Commissioners approved getting involved in the 2013 Towards Zero Death Traffic Safety Grant program at its Sept. 25 board meeting.
The TZD program was borne out of the Safe and Sober campaign, which the county was involved with both got out of five years ago due to bureaucratic red tape.
“The Safe and Sober program was a great idea, but there were so many mandates that we got out of it a few years ago,” Sheriff Joe Hagerty said of the program, which will provide $44,300 for additional patrol shifts. “The state requirements didn’t make sense. We would have to saturate areas and it didn’t make sense to have 10 squad cars in between Buffalo and Rockford. The same person could end up being pulled over two or three times by different officers. We’re a community service-based department and, at times it seemed like we were more of an occupation force.”
The TZD safety program will branch out and serve five programs — impaired driver, the “move over” law that requires vehicles to get out of the nearest lane to a vehicle with flashing lights, seatbelt compliance, motorcycle safety and distracted driving. Before getting back into the program, Wright County made sure it wasn’t going to run into the same state red tape again.
“We met with the powers that be at the state and said that we believe we know best what roads in the county are the most dangerous and felt we knew best how to get the most bang for the buck,” Hagerty said. “They agreed and that is why we got back into the program.”
The grant period will run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2013.
In other items on the Sept. 25 agenda, the board:
APPROVED an agreement between the county and Buffalo Township to resolve the Grand Castle Estates road problem that has recently garnered media attention. Initially, three residents in the 10-house development in Buffalo Township complained about the disrepair of the road leading into the development and were informed they would be assessed for road repairs, which would cost between $130,000 and $150,000. The residents said they paid for their share of the road during the purchase process and that, when the company that was selling the land and homes in the development went bankrupt, they were left with a substandard road. As part of the agreement, the county accepted a check for $100,000 from an investment company in exchange for lifting the moratorium for sale on the other units in the development. The remainder of the costs to bring the road up to state, county and township standards will be split between the county and Buffalo Township.
APPROVED the list of all tax-forfeit land parcels that will be put up for public sale at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in the county courthouse. The parcels included are located in the cities of Annandale, Buffalo, Monticello, Montrose, Otsego, Rockford and Waverly, as well as Clearwater, Monticello and Stockholm townships.
AUTHORIZED waiving the fee for a Tire Recycling Amnesty Day at the county’s compost/recycling facility. Every year the county has done similar amnesty days, taking thousands of old computers and televisions out of the waste stream. Used tires were selected because of a higher-than-normal number of incidents of West Nile Virus being reported this year. The mosquito that carries the virus often use pooled water in tires as a breeding ground. The tire amnesty day will be held Thursday, Nov. 1, at the compost facility during the normal Thursday business hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
APPROVED moving forward with ditch repairs that will be made on County Ditch 10 by Lake Ann near Howard Lake. A presentation was made laying out the issues that the engineer was dealing with during the study that was done during a high-water period in June. The approval will allow the repairs to the ditch to be made later this year
SIGNED documents to amend the agreement between the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the city of Albertville to approve a lump sum payment of $11,000 from the state to the city for additional work/expenses that were identified since the original agreement was approved.
ACCEPTED the August monthly report from the Tri-County Regional Forensic Laboratory.
APPROVED a medical hardship request that will allow a family in Silver Creek Township to install a mobile home to assist in the care of the parents of one of the homeowners under the frail-elderly exclusion of the county’s mobile home ban.
CONDUCTED a moment of silence in honor of Arlyn Nelson, who died the previous week. Nelson was a Wright County Commissioner for 14 years in the 1980s and ‘90s.