Lyon County Board conducts organizational meeting

MARSHALL – Members of the Lyon County Board took care of some annual organizational duties Tuesday morning and also set the stage to continue discussion of some ongoing issues facing the county.

Tuesday was the 2013 organizational meeting for the county board. Commissioners Charlie Sanow, Steve Ritter, Rodney Stensrud and Mark Goodenow were all sworn into office, as was Lyon County Assessor Dean Champine. Commissioner Rick Anderson was nominated and elected as board chairman, and Ritter was nominated and elected vice chairman.

Anderson was absent from the meeting and swearing-in ceremony because of illness.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners set a hearing date for redetermination of benefits on Judicial Ditch 6 in Fairview Township, a topic that had been discussed at some length in 2011. At that time, the city of Marshall had petitioned for an outlet on the ditch as part of a planned drainage project. The petition brought up questions as to the new outlet’s effect on flow in JD 6, as well as the need for an updated determination of benefits to property drained by the ditch. The redetermination process would also take into account changing land values, said Lyon County Ditch Inspector Todd Hammer.

The hearing was set for 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 19. Hammer said he would also be talking with affected landowners in the week beforehand, to hear if there were questions or concerns that needed to be addressed at the hearing.

Meanwhile, some other items of business, including performance evaluations of the county public works director, facilities manager and assessor and discussion of whether to pursue making certain county positions appointed instead of elected, were tabled until next week’s county board meeting. Commissioners said it wouldn’t be too long a delay and would give Anderson a chance to recuperate and take part in the discussion.

The possibility of appointing a county auditor/treasurer and county recorder instead of having elections has also been an ongoing issue for the county board. This past year, Lyon County was one of several counties that had jointly requested state legislation allowing the change. That request didn’t make it through the Legislature, said Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg.

“The Vikings stadium had taken center stage at the end of the session,” Stomberg said. Stomberg said now was the time for commissioners to decide whether to try again.

Although commissioners voted to table discussion of the issue until next week, some said they were still in favor of the idea.

“I would very much like to see us pursue this,” Stensrud said.

Goodenow said there would be benefits to appointing an auditor/treasurer and recorder. He thought the change would mean more efficiency for the county, as well as greater flexibility in the job descriptions for those positions. The state sets specific duties for elected offices, he said.

“This way, you don’t have to group the job requirements in the same way as they did 100 years ago,” Goodenow said.

In other business, commissioners approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a detour on Minnesota Highway 19 in Marshall, an upcoming road project. MnDOT plans to resurface the highway between Lyon County Road 7 and 4th Street in Marshall, said Lyon County Public Works Director Suhail Kanwar. The highway department would divert Highway 19 traffic onto County Road 7 during construction.

Kanwar said it wasn’t yet determined exactly when and for how long the detour would be in place. It could possibly be from mid-July to mid-September, he said.

Commissioners also approved a bid for a three-year contract by the Lyon County Newspaper Association to publish county notices and board minutes. Under the contract, public notices would be published first in one official county newspaper and subsequently in all other county papers, said Marshall Independent publisher Russ Labat. The official receiving newspaper would be the Tracy Headlight-Herald in 2013, the Balaton Press-Tribune in 2014 and the Marshall Independent in 2015.