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Douglas County landowners say County Ditch 6 is a dud, don't want to pay for it

Property owners in Alexandria Township claim they are not benefitting from it as their land doesn't drain into it.

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Douglas County Commissioners – (from left) Charlie Meyer, Heather Larson, Jerry Rapp, Tim Kalina and Keith Englund – listen to concerns from landowners wanting to remove their property from Douglas County Ditch 6. Speaking on behalf of the county, and seated at the table in front of the commissioners, were Kurt Deter, attorney (left) and Tom Anderson, Drainage and Ag inspector. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)
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Property owners who say they aren't getting any benefit from a county ditch for which they are assessed will have to wait until the next Douglas County Board meeting for any sort of resolution

Although there was plenty of discussion on County Ditch 6, no action was taken at the Tuesday, May 18, meeting. Instead, the discussion was tabled and the public hearing will continue on Tuesday, June 1, at 9:05 a.m. so that the commissioners can gather more information.

Three property owners in Alexandria Township – Michael Rachel (parcel 03-1254-000), Rebecca Just (parcel 03-1257-000) and Douglas and Cindy Bruggeman (parcel 030-1257-470) petitioned the county to remove benefited acres from County Ditch 6.

Douglas Bruggeman said they are getting charged for the ditch but not seeing any of the benefits because his land does not drain into the ditch.

“We’re not draining, it’s all underwater,” Bruggeman told the commissioners. “If I was draining, it wouldn’t be flooding. Why am I being held responsible? You’re assessing us for it, but we’re not benefitting.”

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Bernie Rachel feels the same way. He spoke on behalf of two of the land owners, Rachel and Just, who are his children.

“We’re not draining anything, we’re holding water,” Bernie Rachel said.

He did also note that the land he was speaking on behalf of is in the Reinvest in Minnesota program. RIM was enacted in 1986 to restore certain marginal and environmental-sensitive agricultural land to protect soil and water quality and support fish and wildlife habitat.

The program focuses on permanent wetland restoration, adjacent native grassland wildlife habitat complexes and permanent riparian buffers.


"Too many others have been turning to social media for promoting events and news. It seems that letting the public know about something means posting about it on Facebook and calling it good."

- Celeste Edenloff, reporter


Bruggeman and Rachel told the commissioners that several landowners in that area are on the RIM program.

It was pointed out to Rachel by Kurt Deter, attorney for the county, that the ditch made the property eligible to be in the RIM program. Douglas County Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson agreed, saying that without the ditch, there wouldn’t have been any tillable acres.

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Anderson also said that the reason the ditch isn’t draining is because it is in need of repair. He said that he walked the properties and found that the three parcels do drain into the ditch.

However, Bruggeman said he has never seen water run off his property into the ditch. He asked Anderson, “How do you know it’s draining?”

Anderson said the ditch is standing with water because it is out of repair.

“If the ditch was repaired, conditions would be different than what they are today,” he said. “This ditch needs to be repaired. I would repair it, but that’s not my decision.”

Douglas County Chairperson Jerry Rapp said his recommendation would be to table the discussion so that the commissioners could research it and get more information before making their decision. The motion was approved and the discussion was tabled.

Roundabout

Work should be starting soon on the new roundabout at the intersections of County Road 8, known as the Barrett Road, and County Road 40, which was and still connects to Highway 114. The intersection is slightly north and west of Alexandria.

Douglas County Public Works Director Tim Erickson said construction should begin mid to late June and that the anticipated completion date is mid to late September.

The intersection will officially be shut down during the entire project and a detour will be put in place. Details about the detour will be released next week.

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This graphic, provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, shows how traffic is supposed to flow through a roundabout. (Click on image to full image.)

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects lead 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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