County to visit with lobbyist

by April Scheinoha

    The Pennington County Board continues to move forward with its plans to seek state bonding proceeds for a new regional justice center. At its organizational meeting Tuesday, Jan. 5, the board authorized two commissioners to meet with a firm  for preliminary discussions related to lobbying legislators for such funds.
    Board Chairperson Don Jensen and Commissioner Darryl Tveitbakk will meet with McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb in the Twin Cities. “I still feel it may be necessary to have someone help us,” Tveitbakk said.
    The firm had earlier given Tveitbakk a price of $25,000 if the bonding request makes it into the first round of bonding requests. Afterward, the cost may increase an additional $25,000 if the request makes it into the final bonding bill.
    Jensen said he had spoken with Rep. Deb Kiel about the county’s plans to seek $10 million or more in state bonding money. He said Kiel told him that she is willing to champion the project through the Minnesota House of Representatives.  Commissioners also plan to meet with Sen. LeRoy Stumpf.
    In October, commissioners approved a resolution supporting the construction of a regional justice center. They have also approved contracts pertaining to architectural services, soil borings and pre-construction management for the $15.2 million project.
    County Board approved advertising two mill and overlay projects for County State Aid Highways 7 and 12. The project includes the entire segment of roadway between Highway 32 and CSAH 3. The project is estimated to cost $1.67 million. Bid opening is set for Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 9 a.m.
    Pennington County Economic Development Director Christine Anderson appeared before the County Board.
    Anderson said she could easily see 1,500 new housing units in Thief River Falls.
    “It needs to be steady. Sixty units a year is not enough,” she said. “I’d be happy if we can do 200 units a year.”
    Anderson added that she had spoken with an out-of-state business, which hopes to relocate part of its business here. She said the business would employ an estimated 50 people initially.
    About six people per week speak with Anderson about starting or expanding their businesses here. “I think that’s really good for a community of this size,” she said.
    In separate motions, the County Board elected its chairperson and vice chairperson for 2016. Jensen and Commissioner Oliver “Skip” Swanson were elected to those respective positions.
    The County Board also approved various committee appointments for 2016. The following county committee appointments were made:
    • Building and Maintenance Committee – Swanson and Tveitbakk were appointed along with Olson; Sheriff Ray Kuznia was added for matters pertaining to the Law Enforcement Center; and Yutrzenka was added for matters pertaining to the Social Services Department building.
    • County Extension Committee – Jensen and Commissioner Neil Peterson
    • Solid Waste Committee – Peterson and Tveitbakk
    • Highway Committee – Peterson and Jensen
    • Safety Committee – Commissioner Cody Hempel
    • Technology Committee – Tveitbakk and Hempel
    • Law Enforcement Committee – Jensen and Tveitbakk
    • Law Library Committee – Hempel
    • Emergency Management Committee – Jensen and Swanson
    The next County Board meeting is scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. at the Pennington County Courthouse.