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Douglas County may redraw commissioner districts

Commissioners approved the appointment of a redistricting committee to determine where the lines will be.

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Lowell Anderson

With anticipated changes in both the legislative and Alexandria city ward boundaries, Douglas County is preparing for redistricting of existing county commissioner districts.

These changes are taking place because every 10 years following the census, all levels of government where district elections are held are required to review their voting districts for the purpose of equalizing the population representation.

At the Tuesday, Feb. 16, Douglas County Board meeting, commissioners approved the appointment of a redistricting committee, which will be made of the following Douglas County personnel: Tim Kalina, county board chairperson; Jerry Rapp, county commissioner; Vicki Doehling, auditor/treasurer; Tara Anderson, deputy auditor/treasurer; Heather Schlangen, coordinator; Pat Veraguth, surveyor; Katie Reitter, GIS coordinator; and Chad Larson, attorney.

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Tim Kalina

The first meeting of this committee will take place Feb. 28.

With April 26 being the deadline for county commissioner redistricting, the plan is to bring recommendations forward to the county board at the April 5 regular meeting and then have the board approve the final redistricting plan at the April 19 regular board meeting. The new lines will be used for the 2022 elections.

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New water patrol building?

The Douglas County commissioners approved getting a building design drawn up and estimated costs for a new Douglas County Water Patrol building that would also house aquatic invasive species equipment, among other things.

The current building sits on land at the Douglas County Fairgrounds that the county leases from the city and the fair board. The lease on the land is up next year and according to Commissioner Kalina, the county “can’t get anywhere with the city and fair board” on a new lease. The county has been working with the two entities for a number of years, but have not come to an agreement.

The location of the new proposed building would be on land owned by the county, at the site of Douglas County Public Works, said Kalina.

Commissioner Charlie Meyer said there is some urgency in doing the project because not only is the lease ending, but the county has funds from the America Rescue Plan Act that they can use to pay for the project.

“We can use ARPA funds, which is a great way to fund it without levying for it,” said Meyer. “That’s great for taxpayers and us.”

Kalina explained that the building would be heated and include space for a meeting room, bathrooms, kitchenette and wash bays. It would be used to house water patrol and AIS equipment and would have room for training purposes.

The space for AIS and water patrol, which is run by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, would be separate for security reasons, said Kalina.

Once the commissioners get some building plans and cost estimates, they will make a decision whether or not to move forward with the project.

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In other action

Douglas County commissioners approved the following other items:

  • Contract law enforcement services between the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the cities of Carlos, Miltona and Evansville. The cities will pay $42 per hour for law enforcement protection from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. The contract includes 20 hours per month and 24-hour call and general service. Additional hours may be added. The contract can be canceled with a 30-day written notice. 
  • A $1,500 donation from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to be used for the Spruce Hill Archery Park. 
  • A special assessment for County Ditch 17 to build up the repair fund. With repair and improvement of the ditch, bonds were sold and a 20-year lien was applied with the first payment not due until 2023. With repairs still needed and being requested for the ditch, the money received as payment on the lien would go toward paying off the bond, not building up the repair fund. With no lien payment due in 2022, it was advised to do a special assessment to help build up the funds. The special assessment of $69,460.72 is roughly equal to a 4% special levy, according to Tom Anderson, Douglas County ag/ditch inspector. 
  • Preliminary plat of Canavati Addition, a two-lot plat on Big Chip Lake in Brandon Township. 
  • Preliminary plat of Peterson Legacy, a 12-lot plat (11 lakes lots and one outlot) on Lake Ida in Ida Township. 
  • Conditional use permit to Matthew Kakac to allow indoor rental storage of recreational vehicles and equipment in Lake Mary Township. 
  • Conditional use permit to Nathan and Amy McCabe to allow for a one-chair in-home beauty salon in Ida Township. 
  • The 2022 Land and Resource Management fee schedule, which includes new land use permits for septic system self-installation by the homeowner ($450); additional inspections (three or more visits to the site at $100 per visit); minimum commercial/industrial fee ($75); and an increase of $25 (was $75 now $100) for licenses for excavation and landscaping; sign construction and maintenance; SW disposal hauler, transfer station, limited debris landfill; and demolition landfill. There is also now a fee for riprap ($75) and clearing and grading ($150) under the shoreland alteration and landscaping land use permits. 
  • Public auction of tax-forfeited lands to be held on Thursday, March 17, at 9 a.m. in the Douglas County Board Room at the County Administration Building, 821 Cedar St. The parcel numbers of the tax-forfeited lands are: 66-0041-025, 72-0021-000, 72-0066-000, 72-0112-000, 72-0205-000, 72-0267-000, 72-0268-000, 72-0022-000, 72-0173-000 and 72-0277-110. 
  • ARPA funding in the amount of $106,412 to pay for the replacement of existing pit toilets at five county parks to vaulted toilets. 
  • ARPA funding in the amount of $819,478.71 to pay for the purchase of ARMER mobile and portable radios for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas County Public Works. This would include 49 mobile radios and 86 portable radios for the sheriff’s office and 75 mobile radios and seven portable radios for the public works. 
  • ARPA funding in the amount o f$27,759.60 for a new drop box, including cement work, and a new website for the Douglas County Library.
Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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