YMC adopts ID policy

GRANITE FALLS – The Yellow Medicine County Board adopted an ID policy for county employees at the recommendation of Sheriff Bill Flaten at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

All county employees will be issued photo IDs, which they will be required to turn in at the end of their employment. Flaten said that though county employees recognize each other and there are at present no plans to require ID for access to county buildings, in the event of an emergency requiring outside help, IDs would help identify who the county people are.

Commissioner John Berends abstained from voting on an application for a 2 a.m. license for Bootleggers Supper Club. Berends is the owner of Bootleggers. All other commissioners voted in favor.

The board listened to a presentation by Information Technology Coordinator Dennis Pederson on a Sharp AQUOS Interactive Display system.

The board meeting room is presently equipped with a non-interactive projection system controlled by a single station only.

According to Pederson, an AQUOS system would have microphones throughout the meeting room, audiovisual recording capability and allow all devices, including smart phones, tablets and laptops access to the system. It would be fully interactive and enable telepresence from multiple sources for meetings with other agencies.

Pedersen presented two estimates of $80,000 and $88,000 for a complete system but said it could be purchased in stages over time.

The commissioners agreed to consider it at another time.

The board heard a presentation and request for funding from representatives of Western Minnesota Prairie Waters Tourism and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to Melissa Carruth, travel and tourism brings $12.5 billion in gross sales to Minnesota, supports more than 245,000 full-time jobs and generates $811 million in state sales tax statewide. In Yellow Medicine County, that amounts to $13.8 million in gross sales, $554,000 in sales tax and supports 211 private sector jobs.

Prairie Waters is requesting $12,829 from Yellow Medicine County for its work promoting tourism, based on a formula of a $5,000 base rate plus $0.75 per capita of population.

The board agreed to consider the request at a later date.

The board heard a presentation by Emilee Nelson, an employee of Pheasants Forever, one of 10 groups and agencies allied in the Prairie Conservation Plan.

According to Nelson, the state has only about 1 percent of the native grass prairie it once had, and of that much is at risk. The Prairie Conservation Plan is a projected 25-year effort to work with farmers, landowners, local governments and citizens for protection, restoration and enhancement of native prairie.

Commissioners Ron Antony and Gary Johnson both expressed concerns as to whether prairie restoration would remove land from the tax rolls.

County Engineer Andy Sanders, representatives of the Upper Sioux Community and Minnesota Department of Transportation met with the board to discuss a tribal highway project and possible effects on state funding for county/state roads.

“We’re just informing of our intent to move forward with the Prairie’s Edge Lane project and assure that state aid inventory will not be negatively impacted,” said tribal chairman Kevin Jensvold.

State aid is allocated to counties based on miles of road. The project involves a realignment of County/State Road 44, after which the county will do a system review to move funding for the affected segment to another road segment within the county.