May 8 news

WORTHINGTON – At a request from Nobles County Public Works Director Steve Schnieder, the commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously not to charge the cities and townships in the county for the help received from the public works department in cleaning up debris from April’s ice storm.

Schnieder said his department has assisted with debris clean-up in eight communities without neglecting their usual tasks, because the wet weather has slowed them from getting to their normal spring routine. He didn’t feel it was fair that they offer help, then send the cities a bill.

The commissioners agreed that public works should continue to help the cities without charge, stating they had heard many expressions of thanks for the assistance.

They also heard Schnieder’s annual report of the department’s activities and plans, and listened as Sherri Smith from the Fifth Judicial District gave an update on the area’s drug courts. Within the Cottonwood, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock drug courts, known collectively as the Cornerstone Drug Program, there are currently 17 participants.

Commissioners also approved a request from Nobles County IT Director Angelo Torres to enter into a lease agreement for office computers, instead of purchasing new. The county currently has more than 180 PCs, many of which are sadly out of date. By leasing instead of buying, and putting the PCs on a three-year cycle, the county will save approximately $90,000 and keep their equipment updated.

The board approved a request from Schnieder to grant overweight load permits at his discretion. Overweight load permits have not been issued in Nobles County in the past, but adjoining counties and nearby states permit the overweight loads of raw or unprocessed farm commodities to travel on specific county roads.

Also during the meeting, Nobles County Legal Assistant Mary Viessman was recognized for the April Excellence in Performance Award. Viessman has been with the Nobles County Attorney’s Office for 34 years.

WORTHINGTON — An applicant briefing for cities, townships, watershed districts, hospitals, power companies and qualifying nonprofit organizations will take place Tuesday to begin the process for requesting reimbursement funds from FEMA. The meeting will include all the entities that turned in preliminary damage assessments to request the presidential declaration, as well as more that might now be identified as eligible.

Nobles County Emergency Management Director Joyce Jacobs said she has already contacted agencies and organizations that might benefit from the meeting. She is also in the process of contacting non-profit groups that might also qualify. For non-profit groups that are unsure if they will qualify for FEMA funds, Jacobs said she has a document available at her office that may help them determine eligibility.

Jacobs stressed that private homeowners and businesses will need to work with their insurance companies, as the FEMA funds that have been designated for this disaster are for public entities.

WORTHINGTON — The Lake Okabena Improvement Association will host its annual clean-up around Lake Okabena from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Volunteers who want to assist with the clean-up efforts are asked to meet at 4 p.m. at the Centennial Park parking lot adjacent to the Beach Nook. Anyone who has waders or reachers to assist in getting debris out of the lake or Whiskey Ditch, is asked to bring those as well.
Participants are asked to please wear work gloves. Garbage bags will be provided.

WORTHINGTON — The United Way of Nobles County Board of Directors will host its 2013 annual meeting at 4 p.m. May 15 at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce office. All members of United Way of Nobles County are urged to attend. Membership, as defined in the by-laws, is such persons, partnerships, corporations, businesses and others who have contributed to the United Way in the preceding campaign year.

WAHPETON, Iowa - Officials are delaying plans to reopen a popular campground at a state park in the Iowa Great Lakes due to grass conditions. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the campground at Emerson Bay State Recreation Area on the southwest shore of West Lake Okoboji will remain closed until the grass has been established throughout the area. The closure will affect Memorial Day Weekend, putting additional pressure on other campgrounds in the area.

Officials say opening the campground now could cause erosion and damage landscaping from a $600,000 renovation. It was closed in June 2012. The campground will be reassessed in June. Officials haven't decided if the campground will be open for the July 4th holiday.

An agency spokesman says the weather, which included severe drought last year and snow in May, hasn't helped with the seeding process.

MINNESOTA - The Minnesota House is poised to vote Thursday on a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the state, which suggests the measure has the necessary support it needs to pass. House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, had said he would schedule a floor vote only when he knows for sure the measure would pass. The measure needs 68 House votes to be approved. Among those who will vote no is a lawmaker who had been carefully weighing his vote: Farmington Rep. Pat Garofalo said he will vote to oppose the legalization of gay marriage.

The bill could have enough support in the Senate to be approved. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign the measure.

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is calling out the dogs in the fight against zebra mussels. For the first time, the agency this year plans to use three dogs specially trained to sniff out the tiny invasive species. The DNR plans to use the dogs this spring and summer in addition to human inspectors to check boats for zebra mussels.

More than 100 Minnesota lakes, rivers and wetlands are already infested with zebra mussels. The pests clog water intake pipes, cut swimmers' feet and disrupt the ecosystem. California already is using dogs to find zebra and quagga mussels, another invasive species. The DNR will see how the dogs perform this year and decide whether to expand the program.

DES MOINES, Iowa - Voters have rejected a proposal that would have allowed casino gambling in south-central Iowa's Warren County. Unofficial results show more than 60 percent of voters rejected the measure.

Warren County Citizens for Good Jobs and Wild Rose Entertainment had proposed building a casino, hotel, events center and bowling alley in northwest Norwalk, near Iowa Highways 5 and 28.

State law now prohibits Warren County voters from considering another gambling bill before 2021. Nearly a third of eligible voters in the county cast ballots on the question.


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