Three local projects make cut
It took until the last half-hour of the 2018 Legislative session, but the Minnesota Legislature finally passed a $1.5 billion bonding bill and sent it to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.
Tucked inside that bonding bill are a few items that could go directly toward projects in the Douglas County area:
• A $600,000 project to improve the water quality on Lakes Agnes, Henry and Winona. Officials would remove phosphorus by bringing in commercial fishermen to use nets to remove carp in summer and winter, then turn the fish into a product like fertilizer. They would then erect traps to prevent carp from migrating into the chain of lakes. Officials would spread alum in Lake Agnes to bind to the phosphorus, sinking it to the bottom where it would be rendered inert. Sen. Torrey Westrom authored the bill.
• Funding for the Alexandria Technical and Community College to help replace a piping system for heating and cooling that's been in place for more than 50 years. The bonding bill appropriates $4.857 million to cover one phase of the work, according to Dave Bjelland, the CFO at the college. It's included as part of $45 million in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement or HEAPR for colleges statewide. The ATCC is also seeking funding to fix a leaky roof over the north wing, but Bjelland said it's not clear if that's included in the bill.
• A rail grade separation project on Highway 55/Highway 29 north of Glenwood. The bonding bill includes $10.5 million to eliminate an "at grade" crossing with the CP Railway system and redesign the undesirable skewed intersection of the two highways, moving the junction south to 160th Street and giving the intersection a perpendicular layout.
The funding in the bonding bill is not a done deal. Gov. Mark Dayton has to sign the bill and could use his line-item veto power.
Not included in the bill is the City of Alexandria's request for $4.4 million to help pay for an $8.8 million expansion of the Runestone Community Center. It would add a third rink area on the southwest side of the facility that could be used for ice and dry floor events.