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Adopt-A-Highway effort gets results

DID YOU KNOW? Douglas County started the Adopt-A-Highway program in 1990. Douglas County has 540 miles of county roads. There are 335 miles of highway in Douglas County in the Adopt-A-Highway program. There are 139 volunteer groups in Douglas County participating in the program. In 2009, there were 1,448 bags of trash disposed of by the county from this program.

It takes between 10 and 20 years for a plastic bag to decompose if thrown in the ditch alongside a highway.

It takes between one and five years for a cigarette butt that has been thrown out a window to decompose.

An aluminum can takes between 200 and 500 years to break down.

These were just some of the facts shared by Douglas County Public Works Director Dave Robley at Tuesday's regular county board meeting.

Robley asked the county commissioners to approve a resolution for the Adopt-A-Highway program in Douglas County. The resolution states that the county endorses and has agreed to participate in the program and that the local program has received "enthusiastic countywide support from area families, businesses and organizations."

Since 1990, the Douglas County Public Works Department has coordinated the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Currently, there are 139 volunteer groups in the county participating in the program. Those who volunteer take on the responsibility of cleaning a minimum of two miles of road at least two times per year.

In 2009, there were a total of 1,448 bags of trash disposed. Those bags were filled with garbage found along the 335 miles of roads throughout the county that are part of the program.

In addition, a few of the groups disposed of the bags they filled themselves or they recycled the aluminum and glass they collected, according to Robley.

Some of the items that were collected last year included glass, fast food wrappers, cans, diapers, clothing, furniture, a mattress, a TV, bikes, lumber, car parts, insulation, tires, tiles, cardboard, signs and miscellaneous scrap material. Robley noted that a safe was even found in 2009.

"This program is a huge success because of the wonderful volunteers that take the time out of their busy schedules to help keep Douglas County beautiful," Robley stated in a letter to the county. "Thanks to each and every one of you for your participation in this program. It is much appreciated."

In other business

•Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen made a request to increase the jail booking fee from $10 to $25. He told the commissioners that Minnesota State Statute has now allowed an increase in the booking fee and that there was a formula used to determine the amount of the fee.

The formula, according to Wolbersen, included the following factors - average amount of time spent booking a person, average salary of jailor processing a person through booking and percentage of jail overhead costs.

In addition, he said a group of sheriffs in District 3, which includes Douglas County, agreed that it would be best to have a uniform or consistent booking fee and that $25 seemed reasonable.

Wolbersen said that there hasn't been an increase in the fee for quite some time. He remembered when he was a jailor back in 1987 and the fee at that time was $10 - that's nearly 25 years ago.

The motion for the increase was approved.

•The commissioners approved the application process for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office to apply for two grants that would help cover the cost of funding for the upcoming switch to the 800-megahertz radio system. The system - Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) - could cost $2.8 million for the entire county, including new radios for all entities.

Both grants being applied for, according to the sheriff, require a 50 percent match from the county. Combined, the grants could provide approximately $700,000 to the county for the ARMER system.

•They also approved a $160,000 grant that the sheriff's office received from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for the West Central Minnesota Narcotics Task Force.

•Douglas County Coordinator Bill Schalow asked the commissioners to approve a stimulus funds grant that would help pay for the replacement of two steam boilers with water boilers. Schalow requested that the county hire an outside person to help write the grant. This person would charge no more than $3,000 to write the grant.

The board approved both the hiring of the person to write the grant and the grant application process.

•Douglas County Department heads may be keeping their existing titles. At the January 5 meeting board chair Paul Anderson brought up the idea of changing the name of department heads to team leaders. He asked for approval at Tuesday's meeting for the name change.

It was not approved. Commissioner Bev Bales made a motion to poll the department heads first to see if they would welcome the name change. That motion was approved by a 4-1 vote. Anderson voted against it.

For now, the department heads will keep their titles of department heads.