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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Watonwan County looking at GIS

  • Commissioners met during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, July 16 and discussed capital improvement for the second straight meeting.
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  • Commissioners met during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, July 16 and discussed capital improvement for the second straight meeting.
    Public Works Director Roger Risser said to get all vehicles and equipment up to date would cost the county about $2,090,000.
    "Without getting much equipment for so many years, it's been tough to prioritize," said Shop Equipment Supervisor Charlie Beckius. "We've fallen so far behind throughout the years here, I don't know if a person will ever catch up."
    The county will plan to trade-in most equipment and vehicles that they choose to replace, which should lower the cost of some of those vehicles. Others they will continue to use as requested by the public works department.
    The capital improvement budget doesn't contain enough funds to replace all of the vehicles, so the Watonwan County Board will have to decide which vehicles and equipment the county can afford to replace. No decisions were reached during this meeting.
    Also coming up during the capital improvement discussion were county building improvements. Total cost to repair all buildings in fair grounds would be about $170,000. Much of the repairs will be replacing leaking roofs, doors and windows along with residing some buildings. The plans also show that both the creative arts and building to the north would be torn down and replaced by a single building. It was determined that maintaining both buildings would be wasteful.
    Commissioners approved the amended agenda along with past meetings minutes and payment of the bills.
    The county board also approved the payment of two contracts from Schwickerts and RSI.
    The Schwickerts contract was for the law enforcement annex in the amount of $40,000. Schwickerts is now working on the jail annex.
    "I think things are progressing pretty well with the annex and jail," said Commissioner Scott Sanders.
    RSI are roof specialists who have billed $6,000 previously. The payment approved Tuesday was for $17,000.
    "Included within that would be the engineer as well, as far as their work they should be done," said Auditor Don Kuhlman.
    The Watonwan County Board approved the payment of credit cards. The general credit card payment was $1,164.15, library $285.18, Capital One $1,318.25 and the Sheriff's credit card at $278.18.
    Training requests came from the Emergency Management Director Julie Peterson, and Land Management Director Dave Haler. Peterson requested approval to go to the AMEM Fall Training Conference from Sept. 14 through Sept. 18, in Breezy Point, Minn., at the cost of $700. The conference will cover social media for natural disaster response and recovery; how storm chasers and emergency managers make tornado alley safer; permission to live-creating safer and more effective schools through planning, preparedness and empowerment.
    Haler's request was for design and use of excel spreadsheet at the cost of $90. The class is a one day in Mankato. Both requests were approved unanimously.
    Page 2 of 2 - Public Works:
    The Watonwan County Board authorized Risser to inquire about a Deputy Ditch Inspector for the MNDOT TH60 Project.
    Commissioners accepted permit request allowing a 10 inch diameter drainage tile to be placed across CSAH 10 near 660th Avenue.
    Once again the Watonwan County Commissioners discussed the possibility of adding a wheelage tax to county revenue. The wheelage tax would bring in $114,000 worth of revenue and has been widely accepted throughout rural Minnesota. Those funds could be added to the transportation fund.
    The tax will add approximately $10 per vehicle to residents of Watonwan County – exclusion trailers or motorcycles. Watonwan County commissioners voted 3-2 to accept this new tax with Commissioners Kathleen Svalland, Dave Holmgren and Mark Rentz voting for and Scott Sanders and Ray Gustafson voting against.
    GIS Presentation:
    Closing the meeting was a presentation of GIS and Pictometry software.
    Ryan Poots, regional technical manager of Pictometry introduced a program that offers HD oblique and birdseye imagery for use with GIS and mapping software.
    Pictometry is based out of Rochester N.Y., and was established in 2000. They work in 1,200 different counties including 55 counties in Minnesota. With this software, the county will also have access to other counties imagery.
    They provides high quality aerial imagery with photos taken every 2-3 seconds from several different angles.
    The technology can be used for public safety, 911 assessing, GIS, addressing, census, planning, zoning, judicial, economic development and historical records.
    The cost would be either $61,957 over three years with one flight or $47,647 and $57,475 over six years for two flights. This includes imagery, training and programs.
    Ryan Smith of Schneider Corporation gave a presentation about GIS to the county commissioners following Poots' demonstration.
    GIS is location with information software. Users can input whatever information they'd like to find through GIS including drainage ditch, manhole covers, catch basins, water valves; really any information.
    Likely costs for this hardware would cost between $80,000 and $105,000.
    Commissioners requested firm prices for both programs and will decide whether or not they want to move forward with the programs from there.

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