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Sudden death prompts review in Faribault Co.

October 23, 2009
Sarah Day — Staff Writer

BLUE EARTH - The sudden death of Faribault County's planning and zoning administrator has prompted a review of the position.

Michele Stindtman, Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District's district manager, updated the county board this week on how staff has responded to the loss.

She said each staffer knew some of the duties Bruce Blakesley performed, so in his absence, each picked up what they could.

"I think that's a real strong statement for our Soil and Water office," said Commiss-ioner Bill Groskreutz.

Commissioner Tom Loveall agreed: "That's one of the strengths of how we were doing this. We had some backup in the whole office."

Soil and Water will re-evaluate the position to determine if it needs to make changes to the job description.

"What we were proposing, for the interim, that we could continue on and pick up the tasks that were on the job description," Stindtman said. "Every time there's a situation, in this case it's a bad situation, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate. That's always a good thing to do."

Stindtman said a drainage technician is a position that has talked about for years. She asked the board to consider if they want the new planning and zoning person to be able to take that on.

Commissioners felt combining the two positions would be too much. Groskreutz said the new person would probably spend about 90 percent of his or her time for at least the first year learning the ditch system.

Stindtman asked the board to appoint someone to fill the planning and zoning director position in the interim. Because Stindtman is the most familiar with Blakesley's duties and has had the authorization to review building applications, she was recommended.

Commissioner Tom Warmka made a motion to appoint Stindtman temporary planning and zoning administrator. It was approved.

County officials will work on the new planning and zoning director job description, with a deadline of Dec. 15 - the county board's last meeting of the year.

Commissioner John Roper suggested they look at cooperating with Martin County to form a joint position for drainage.

Commissioner Butch Erichsrud liked the idea.

Warmka thought maybe Stindtman could keep up the position, and after the interim deadline find out if she needs more support staff.

In other board action, it approved a new GPS unit for the county highway department for more than $20,000.

Loveall said he wouldn't vote for it because he believes there should be a freeze on equipment purchases.

"I agree, however, the public works department, we're a little different of an animal. We're funded different than other entities of the county," said Engineer John McDonald. "About 35 to 40 percent of our budget comes from the courthouse. The rest comes from our share of state aid and federal."

He added that if the department waits to replace the 10-year-old piece of equipment, it will cost significantly more to purchase, and the resale value of the old unit will drop.

Approval was given, 3-2, with Loveall and Erichsrud dissenting. Warmka, Groskreutz and Roper voted in favor.



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