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County board sets up ditch inspection plan, prepares for county business relief funds

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At Tuesday's Watonwan County Board meeting, Chad Hildebrand, Soil and Water Conservation District Assistant Manager & County Ditch Inspector, laid out a plan for ditch inspections in 2021 and beyond on open trenches within Watonwan County.

In 2021, the county will inspect three different ditch systems within the county. The major ditch is judicial ditch 13, which starts at Lake Hanska in Brown County is 7.66 miles long. Judicial ditch five (1.53 miles) and county ditch four (1.05 miles) will also be inspected this year. Ditches will be walked and driven, and inspectors will look for base luffing or sediment deposit buildup in the ditches.

The county has set up a five-year rotation for the inspection of all ditches in the county. The county will still provide necessary upkeep for ditches in years they are not on a rotation. 

In previous years, the county has not had a comprehensive plan to inspect ditches.

"I don't think we've ever been on a rotation," said county treasurer/auditor Kelly Pauling. "We are trying to be more proactive instead of reactive on some of this stuff."

The inspections are scheduled to be completed by the fall.

Pauling also noted that the county was working on applications for county business relief funds. The county has requested labels from the Secretary of State to mail out postcards to businesses within the county.

The chambers of commerce in St. James and Madelia will have applications available and will reach out to businesses.

The next Watonwan County Board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 2.

Other items:

- Bills: general $106,507.48; road and bridge $15,116.56

- 2020 audit engagement

- tobacco license for Casey's in Butterfield

- Godahl Recreation gambling permit

- Two training requests Jared Bergeman- advanced Federal/State gun laws and basic Federal/State gun laws

- Personnel: Annual step movements: Amanda Petermann, Shay Forstrom, Dean Swenstad, Anna Curry, Neil Wiederhoeft, Lisa Schumann. End of probation classification: Grace Brehmer, branch assistant for Lewisville library. Promote to branch attendant. Appoint dispatch dependent on satisfactory background check: Michelle Perez

- Approve bid for squad car- 2021 Chevy Tahoe for $38,847.76 from Ranger Chevrolet

- Sheriff’s sales moved up from $50 to $100

-  Approve bid for John Deere (Rogers): 6130M- Diamond Mower- $138,474.12

- Approve bid for John Deere motor grader 772G- $288,016.00

- Three-year ZIX Protection- $30,568.44