April 22, 2024

Commissioners declare state of emergency

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C. A. Ray

Grant County Herald

The Grant County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution declaring the county was in a state of emergency because of the heavy snow melt, and high water levels in county rivers. The resolution makes Grant County available for federal and/or state funds, when, and if, Grant County is declared a federal or state disaster area.

County Highway foreman Pat McGrath said his department cataloged 44 flood sites on county roads. This is mostly water running over the roads. Three culverts had been washed out. 

“The damage is in the six figures,” he said. He added that county crews should have the majority of the damage fixed by the end of next week.

“It’s worse the further west you go,” he said. “In fact, I am surprised there is not more damage. You could drive through most washouts and we only had to shut down a few roads.”

Drivers are warned not to drive through a washed out road unless you can see the road bottom.

Townships are asked to send in estimates of damages to township roads, as soon as possible, so they can be included in any disaster declaration.

Other business

Office of Land Management Director Gregg Lillemon updated the board on a couple of major developments coming up in Grant County. Lillemon said the owners of a large grape-growing operation five miles east of Barrett on County Highway #2, have purchased the former Elk Lake Heritage Preserve and are planning to expand into a winery destination. It will take a few years, but they hope to include a winery, bar, and other attractions.

Lillemon said Otter Tail Power is planning to build a transmission line between their Big Stone power plant and Alexandria in a couple of years. They will be holding public meetings to finalize the route in the future.

Commissioner Bill LaValley reported to County Engineer Aaron Weinandt that he had been getting complaints about plans to take two intersections off the list of planned street lighting projects. The intersections: at State Highway #79 and County Highway #24 (The golf course road) and State Highway #21 and County Highway #7, west of Herman, were taken off the list because there was no nearby power source and it would be too expensive to bury cable the distance required to power the overhead lights.

The commissioners suggested putting up flashing stop lights at those two intersections instead. They are solar powered and cost only around $3,000 each.

Weinandt said he would look into it.

Boone Carlson, North Ottawa Township Supervisor, requested $30,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to replenish the township’s road maintenance fund that had been depleted this winter. Commissioner Ken Johnson said the county had allocated what amounts to $2,000 in ARPA funds for each township and he wasn’t willing to give more until the Law Enforcement Center bids come in in two weeks. 

 A motion was passed to allocate $2,000 in ARPA funds for North Ottawa Township.

“Our residents feel the money is there and the county should (allocate) it,” Carlson said.

The commissioners explained they were not saying “no” to North Ottawa, but simply needed to see where the LEC bids come in at.

Commissioner Bill LaValley asked that the North Ottawa Improvement Project be promoted on the Grant County website. He said the wetland, which is three square miles of flood water containment for flood control, is located just southeast of Tintah. It is becoming a tourist attraction for birdwatchers, especially this time of year when migratory waterfowl and shorebirds dominate. 

“People are coming from all over, and National Geographic was there last year,” said LaValley, who said the county was putting a better porta-potty and more garbage cans at the site.

The commissioners accepted the low bid of $1.42 per gallon or $0.95 a foot from Hennen Lawn Care for Dust Control application on gravel roads.

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