YMC Board approves contract for ME services

GRANITE FALLS – The Yellow Medicine County Board approved a contract for medical examiner services through Anoka County’s Midwest Medical Examiners and appointed MME’s Dr. A Quinn Strobl as the county medical examiner on Tuesday.

This will eliminate the need for the county to appoint a coroner and allow for more in-depth medical examinations. Cost for the service is a $125 monthly fee and an additional fee for autopsies, which will roughly amount to $2,000 per examination.

Gary Alberts with MME and Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten addressed the board and described the contract terms. Alberts said that MME serves as the named medical examiner for 14 counties in Minnesota and as the referral entity for more than a dozen other counties. The organization is accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners and has three full-time forensic pathologists and at least one is on duty, 24/7 at all times. MME handles approximately 4,000 cases a year and approximately 600 autopsies a year. Its organization offers grand jury and court testimony, a law enforcement training, an anthropology lab and onsite Lodox imaging technology that can perform a full body scan in 13 seconds and eliminates the need for traditional X-rays.

Flaten said that his department was excited to work with MME and take part in its law enforcement training that would teach officers what to look for while at a crime scene. Flaten also added that he has spoken with Renville County, which also uses MME, and that it has been pleased with the services. The new medical examination services contract will cost roughly the same as contracts in the past but will cost less than a proposed contract from a local coroner.

In other business, the board reviewed packets from five architects that submitted proposals for the new county courthouse.

The board received proposals from the architecture firms of Leo A Daly, Omaha, Neb.; VJA Architects, Minneapolis; Klein McCarthy, Minneapolis; Wold Architects & Engineers, St Paul; and BKV Group, Minneapolis.

County Administrator Peg Heglund and Earl Fuechtman, project manager with Contegrity Group, discussed the architect selection process with the board and how they could conduct interviews.

Fuechtman said that he sent requests for proposals to seven firms, received proposals from five and that all the firms that responded are qualified for the job. The board decided to review the proposals and come to a decision as which firms to interview at its next meeting.

Heglund updated the board on damage in the courthouse basement caused by flooding in June. Heglund said that there is “quite a bit of damage, and staff has had to relocate.” After reviewing the damage, asbestos and mold was discovered, and Heglund requested that a portion of the basement be closed and that office space be rented at the Minnesota West campus in Granite Falls.

Heglund said that the campus would welcome the Veteran’s Services department to the campus and that rent would be $530 a month, including all utilities except for phone service.

The board showed concern for the cost of the rented space and asked if there was any way to fit everyone into the already cramped courthouse. When Heglund showed the board that there were basically no other options to provide adequate space for all county workers, Commissioner John Berends made a motion to rent and try out the space at the campus. The motion passed 3-2, with commissioners Louis Sherlin and Gary Johnson voting against the motion.

A county wheelage tax was again discussed briefly at the meeting and then denied after discussion. Commissioner Ron Antony said that he thought the wheelage tax would help take the tax burden off of the agriculture sector, but other board members disagreed.

The board reviewed bids for work on County Ditch 1B, Lateral M brought forward by engineering consultant Duane Hansel with Bolton & Menk, Inc. Hansel suggested that the board go with the low bid from Brey Tiling and Excavation , LLC of Marshall. Its bid of $224,152.05 came in 19 percent below the engineer’s estimate of $277,000. The board unanimously accepted the bid from Brey.

Planing and Zoning Coordinator Jolene Johnson requested the approval of two conditional use permits, and the board unanimously voted in favor. A conditional use permit was granted to Adam Haroldson of Clarkfield for the construction of a 62-by-280 foot hog barn to house 1,000 head of finishing hogs. The barn will use a manure pack on the floor for manure storage.

Haroldson said this form of manure storage is necessary because he raises antibiotic-free pigs. A conditional use permit was also granted to Lance and Keith Citrowske of Boyd to operate a used vehicle dealership as well as vehicle maintenance.