It looks like another intersection in Douglas County is getting a roundabout – County Road 8 and County Road 40.

Douglas County commissioners approved a contract for engineering services with Widseth Smith Nolting at the Tuesday, April 7, board meeting. The plans call for the work to be completed immediately so that the final design for the intersection can be completed by Feb. 1, 2021.

WSN will provide services for civil engineering plans and specifications for the reconstruction of the two county roads. The project will be designed as a Minnesota Department of Transportation County State Aid project.

Douglas County Chairman Keith Englund questioned the project, stating he had constituents who are not sold on the project. He asked Public Works Director Dave Robley if he’s heard any negative comments about this particular roundabout project. Robley said he has not.

Robley was asked about costs of the roundabout versus just putting in a four-way stop. He said the cost would not be that much different.

“I think this is absolutely the right design for this project,” said Robley.

Englund said, “If you put it out there that the cost isn’t that much different, maybe I won’t get crucified as much.”

Robley said the county would probably spend just as much doing a reconstruction of the roads to allow for the proper four-way than by doing a roundabout.

Commissioner Jerry Rapp said that with the roundabout, there wouldn’t be a need any longer for rumble strips, which have been the topic of many conversations with that intersection.

“Having no more rumble strips, that is a plus,” said Rapp.

Englund said he knows that intersection is one of the most dangerous in the county.

Robley said roundabouts are one of the safest ways to go and that people have gotten used to the other two roundabouts in the county.

COVID-19 costs

Julie Anderson, the county’s public information officer, and Char Rosenow, the auditor/treasurer, updated the board about efforts tracking costs related to the coronavirus pandemic.

In information provided to the commissioners, Rosenow stated that on March 13, the federal and state governments declared a disaster related to the pandemic.

In order for the county to track expenditures for possible reimbursement, codes are being set up for individual departments for pandemic-related expenses.

In addition, Rosenow and Anderson asked the commissioners for permission to use the FEMA Declared Emergency funds as needed.

Rosenow and Anderson will be working together to determine appropriate expenditures for that fund. Any purchases greater than $10,000 would need to be brought to the commissioners for approval.

Rosenow said the county has about $479,000 excess funds in the general fund from 2019 that can be used. That money would be used to pay for COVID-19 related expenditures that do not qualify for FEMA Declared Emergency funds.

A lot of tracking and sorting needs to be done, but Rosenow and Anderson said they are taking care of everything.

Anderson said she has been having twice-a-week meetings with the state relating to funds and how the county will be able to be reimbursed for costs related to the pandemic.

“It is an ever-changing target,” she said. “I will keep you all updated.”

In other action

The board approved the following other items:

  • Tabling the discussion on the county coordinator department structure until further notice.

  • Continuing the hiring freeze except for certain positions.

  • Contract with Viking Garage Door for the replacement of garage doors.

  • Donations of $200 from the Alexandria VFW to purchase new flags, and $50 from Christina Lake Church to be used for Social Services clients.

  • Sale of tax-forfeited property to the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

  • Donation of 200 duffle bags from His Kids Orphan Ministry to be provided to children in foster care.

  • County Feedlot Annual Report of 2019.

  • Conditional use permit to Ferguson Brothers Inc. to allow a hot-mix asphalt plant and stockpiling of new source materials, stockpiling and recycling of bituminous and concrete and outdoor storage of paving and hauling equipment in Hudson Township.

  • Conditional use permit to Hardwood Hills Golf Course LLC to allow a 10-unit commercial planned unit development campground in LaGrand Township.

  • Conditional use permit to Jacqueline and Jeffrey Reed to allow a 57-unit commercial storage planned unit development in Lake Mary Township.

  • Preliminary plat of H and M Storage in Lake Mary Township.

  • Preliminary plat of Ossefoort Addition in Urness Township.

  • Preliminary plat of Bettin Addition in Millerville Township.

  • Resolution supporting a $3,000 boating safety patrol grant.

  • Donation of $100 from James and Darla Brink to be used for the D.A.R.E. and K-9 program for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

  • Alexandria Public Schools/County gymnasium six-month lease agreement.