During their Tuesday meeting, the Watonwan County Board of Commissioners voted to have a new video visitation system installed in the jail.

The current system, which was installed in the mid-1990s, doesn’t work at all, said Don Kuhlman, county auditor/treasurer. Right now, only face-to-face visits can be done, and the facility needs to be locked down each time.

The bid, for $12,108 from Reliance Telephone, Inc., would rectify the problem, and the board unanimously approved it. Board member Scott Sanders said, “I highly recommend we get this installed quickly,” and Kuhlman added the county has received quality service from Reliance in the past. Plus, they’re a Minnesota company, out of East Grand Forks.

The board also approved a policy for design and construction of municipal county aid state highways. There are over 18 miles of CSAH within municipalities within the county, and these routes are eligible for improvements via the county’s Municipal State Aid account.

Under the agreement, after a project is identified and the project scope is defined by the city and county, the city shall take the lead. The city will employ a professional engineer to prepare the plans and special provisions in accordance with state aid and Minnesota Department of Transportation specifications. The city is responsible for all engineering, administration, and design of the construction contract.

Furthermore, the county will reimburse the city for construction costs, according to the agreement. The amount of reimbursement will be up to 10 percent of the contractors bid for preliminary and final design engineering and up to eight percent of the contractors bid for construction engineering. During construction, the city will make payments to the contractor and then bill the county for state aid eligible items.

Public Works Director Roger Risser said this agreement would only be practical for the larger cities in the county, like Butterfield, Madelia, and St. James.

According to the National Association of Counties (NACo), 45 percent of public roads and 39 percent of bridges in the United States are built and maintained by counties.

For the rest of this story, please see today's print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.