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More buzz about the roundabout

The long awaited, long debated roundabout coming to Highway 29 south of Alexandria nudged forward at the March 12 Douglas County Commissioners' meeting. A resolution was passed that allows the county and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to continue with plans to make improvements paving the way for more changes down the road.

An estimated $305,000 is expected to be paid by the county for reconstruction of County Road 87 which will be the east leg of the roundabout. The county will also have a share of additional costs for the new right of way for realignment of County Road 28. Douglas County Engineer/Public Works Director Dave Robley said there isn't an estimated cost for the right of way at this point because it can vary by a wide margin. MnDOT will pay for the construction of the roundabout and the alignment of County Road 28.

Acquired driveways along Highway 29 are planned to be relocated onto frontage roads which would provide fewer access points for safety, Robley explained

Commissioner Jerry Johnson said he has heard concerns from truck drivers regarding the width of the roundabout. He's been asked if the one planned south of Alexandria will be wider than one in Worthington. Robley said MnDOT has been meeting with Central Specialties, a general road contractor in Alexandria, to determine the roads needs.

"I'm just wondering if [MnDOT] understands a trucker's perspective," Johnson said.

Judy Andreasen representing Maney International, a full service truck dealership that offers parts, service, and truck rental and leasing, voiced concerns about the roundabout. She said customers have expressed views about how they are going to get to Maney's once the roundabout changes access to the frontage road that leads to the business.The access would be farther away than it is now.

Andreasen said staff at Maney's is concerned not only about their ability to continue to provide service to trucks, but for their jobs as well.

"Trucks haul oversized items all year round, it's not only just Central Specialties equipment that is going to go down that road," Andreasen said.

Robley said that through the entire planning process with MnDOT that the roundabout is the recommended design. The roundabout will be able to accommodate oversized loads as Highway 29 is designated as a "super haul route."

SIGNS OF SPRING

Springtime plans for the Douglas County Public Works department are emerging. Commissioners approved advertisements for bids on the Kensington Runestone Park entrance, liquid calcium chloride and highway striping.

Johnson said he has received calls from concerned residents who are opposed to the new entrance. The residents have stated that they do not see a reason for change and believe that although the county received the grant, it doesn't need to spend the money.

The county will proceed with the bid process as it pertains to the Kensington Runestone Park master plan. Sealed bids on all projects will be accepted until April 17.

A contract was awarded to M and R Signs in Fergus Falls for 2013 highway sign materials. M and R bid $7,811; another company, Newman Traffic Signs from Jamestown, North Dakota, bid $7,825.90.

A public hearing is planned during the April 23 commissioners' meeting to determine partial abandonment, total abandonment and removal of property from Douglas County ditch 23 in Ida Township. Changes could affect wetlands in the area. Johnson said if water levels rise, displaced water will come up ditch 23.

"Water will come back and it's going to catch us," Johnson said referring to a past situation with the Lake Oscar outlet in Garfield.

STILL SAVING

A royalty report from the prescription savings plan, Coast2Coast, has become routine at county board meetings. Residents continue to save money and the county keeps profiting from its participation. In January 2013 the county collected $126 in royalties, $263 was collected between September and December 2012. Coast2Coast was first used last September.

DONATIONS

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office was presented with an automated external defibrillator (AED) by Take Heart St. Cloud. Funds used to pay for the AED were provided by the St. Cloud chapter of Mended Hearts.

Douglas County Public Health received $2,298 designated for the county's hospice program.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Commissioners passed a resolution supporting the Family Homeless Assistance and Prevention Program grant application submitted by West Central Minnesota Communities Action.

The program provides services to pay rental deposits and first month's rent for homeless households, assistance for those facing eviction or foreclosure and help with establishing a household budget. The Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program has provided aid to 443 households in Douglas County since 2007 and contributed $122,406 in direct assistance for payments of rents, deposits, mortgages and utilities.

The resolution states that the Douglas County Board of Commissioners supports West Central Minnesota Communities Action in operating the program from the Minnesota Housing agency, totaling $350,000 for the grant year July 2013 to June 2015.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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