By Randy Neumann, Todd County commissioner
Since my last article, I stated I was up for re-election in November 2020. I am very grateful for the continued support from the voters of Todd County, District 5 who I will have the honor to serve for the next four years. Our county board will remain the same for the next two years as Commissioners Erickson and Becker also got reelected.
So what’s been happening in Todd County? Well, our COVID cases are down and Public Health has been using the Expo Building at the Fairgrounds to give the vaccine shots and it has been working very well for our residents. We are asking residents to stay up to date on COVID vaccination opportunities by tuning in to KEYL/KXDL or the Todd County website at www.co.todd.mn.us. We will also be using Code Red, Todd County’s phone based mass emergency notification system to send messages to our County residents regarding COVID-19 vaccination information. You can register yourself and your loved ones for Code Red by visiting Todd County’s website at www.co.todd.mn.us or by calling Mike Wisniewski at 320-533-4697.
Another thing that’s going on is the One Watershed One Plan. A lot of our residents, unless they go online to read the 350 pages, have no idea what this plan involves. Both Douglas County Commissioner Jerry Rapp and I believe we need to hold a meeting in Osakis to try to answer questions. We will try to set this up as soon as we are allowed by the state to hold an in-person public meeting. I can tell you there are some trust factors involved when the state is pushing this. How long will the funding last? Will we as a taxing authority end up coming back to our residents and asking for them to pay? We asked many times this question and we were told, no, that we would not have to ask our residents to pay. We, as your elected officials, will talk about this when we have the meeting. We held a public meeting by Zoom on Jan. 28 at 6:30 pm. Out of the 75,000 residents within the watershed, only 29 people were online and most of them were committee members.
We have settled with five out of seven union contracts. These are a one-year contract with a 2% COLA. We normally try to do a three-year contract but with COVID-19 we had some concerns where we were going to be financially in Todd County. We are working on getting all of our steps down with our bonding of the $4 million solid waste project. Hopefully, we will get started this summer. Our solid waste facility in Browerville was built in the early 1980s and is really outdated for handling today’s waste. The Parks and Trail Board is looking for an at-large member to join the Park Board. If interested, please contact myself or one of the board members. Following our county board rotation, Commissioner Barb Becker is our chairperson and Commissioner Rod Erickson is our vice chairperson. One thing we have to watch is our inmate count at the Todd County Jail. We were housing inmates from other counties, which kept our population in the jail sometimes around 50. Now with other counties building new jails, like Clay and Becker, our inmate count has dropped considerably so we will have to watch how this plays out financially. I want to thank Shirley Moberg for accepting my appointment to the Todd County Extension Committee. This is a three-year appointment where individuals can serve up to nine years total. Shirley and her husband, Charles, and family reside in Gordon Township.
Speaking of appointments, we have seen it is getting harder to find people to get on some of our boards. I have talked with a member of the Osakis Lake Association who is also having issues on getting people to join their board. So, I had Todd County MIS create a map of the number of parcels around Lake Osakis in both Todd and Douglas Counties. It showed 690 parcels in Todd and 193 in Douglas for a total of 883. Then I asked for a map with all parcels within what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources considers lake shore, which is 1,000 feet from Lake Osakis. Those numbers are 1,125 parcels in Todd County and 502 parcels in Douglas County for a total of 1,627 parcels within 1,000 feet of Lake Osakis. I thought this is interesting data.
Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.