Martin County 4-H move to fairgrounds OK’d

FAIRMONT — Martin County commissioners have approved a lease agreement with the Martin County Fair for office space at the fairgrounds for the 4-H program.

The lease, set at $6,000 annually for a five-year period, cements a plan that has been in progress since December. County 4-H coordinator Kristie Gaalswyk-Pomerenke had weighed in at that time.

“When I first started, it was apparent to me that my office space was a commodity within [the county courthouse] and if I am to be moved, I would appreciate being moved to a place where it’s advantageous for our program,” she had said. “A good chunk of our position is planning and managing the fair, so it just makes sense to be on site for those types of operations that we need to oversee.”

Commissioner Steve Flohrs offered his opinion.

“I think it’s incredibly important to get them out there,” he said. “There’s a number of issues going on, and they spend an incredible amount of time hauling stuff out there during the fair. Then they haul it all back there again.

“I think it will work out very well for them. People are in tune with agriculture out there and I feel it would be a good idea to do this.”

Commissioner Kathy Smith concurred.

“I understand the move, but I hate to see them leave the courthouse,” she said. “It’s nice to have 4-H in the building, but I understand the reasons why, and I think we’re ready for it to happen.”

Commissioner Elliot Belgard also expressed support, after previously voting against the move because of the urgency with which it had been presented.

“But it did make sense to me at the time and it does now,” he said.

Turning to another matter, Commissioner Tom Mahoney asked County Engineer Kevin Peyman what it would take to get some of the county’s gravel roads repaired after heavy rain and snowfall damage earlier this year.

“It’s going to take time,” Peyman replied. “This is the worst that most of our guys can remember and I think some of the township roads are even worse. We’ve been hauling quite a bit of rock to the worst spots and put gravel over the top and we try to keep the blades on them, but if they’re too soft the blades can do more damage than good.

We’re trying to stay on it as much as we can, and it’s been a challenging year for gravels. We definitely have some really bad spots.”

The board also heard from Peyman concerning a potential speed limit increase on County Road 26, commonly known as “Old 16.” Both Faribault and Martin counties would have to undergo speed studies and pass resolutions to proceed. The process will take a couple of years. The current speed limit stands at 55 mph and will continue for the foreseeable future.

In other action, the board:

o Approved the promotion of Curt Holland as highway maintenance crew foreman.

o Approved a motion to authorize advertising to fill a vacant appraiser position since the promotion of Laura Odgren to the deputy assessor position.

o Approved a policy on the possession of firearms in the workplace for Martin County employees. The policy follows state law, which declares that no individual employed by the county is permitted to carry or possess a firearm while acting in the course and scope of their employment for the county, unless the individual is a licensed peace officer or a permitted county attorney or assistant county attorney.

o Approved a professional service agreement with the Granada-Huntley-East Chain School District through the Martin County Sheriff’s Office for a deputy position to be assigned as a school resource officer for the district. Sixty-six percent of the cost will be paid by the district, while the county will cover the remaining 34 percent. The position will include an initial three-year term, beginning in September. GHEC still must approve the agreement.