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County considers jail needs

FAIRMONT — The Martin County Commissioners on Tuesday heard from the Sheriff’s office regarding jail food service needs.

“We are looking at adding a kitchen back in after many years of not having it and it comes with a pricetag,” said Chief Deputy Corey Klanderud.

When the jail was originally built, it had a kitchen but over the years it was transitioned into a laundry room.

Hy-Vee had been providing food service to the jail, but then cancelled their contract with the county and the Sheriff’s office has since worked to find a local vendor to provide food service to the jail. Lakeview Health Services had provided meals on a temporary basis, but there is still a need to find a vendor to produce the meals for the jails.

Klanderud said they brought a proposal to the building committee and are not only looking at adding a kitchen, but a new laundry room and dry storage room. Klanderud said space is tight but they’ll make it work. Four areas will need to be reorganized to make it work. The initial cost estimate for the project is $75,000.

The sheriff’s office is seeking approval to get started with plumbing and electrical to move the laundry room.

“The challenge with the food service is that with the appliances, there’s severe delay in production. After we get it ordered it could be 12 to 16 weeks before it’s delivered,” Klanderud said.

He said their current food service provider talked about ending their service at the beginning of October and Klanderud said they’ve asked for it to be extended, which was granted but for an undetermined amount of time.

Commissioner Kathy Smith asked if the equipment can be moved to the Justice Center jail, which Klanderud said most appliances will be on wheels or will be able to be moved.

“All of the stuff we’re asking to purchase now is usable in the new facility,” Klanderud said.

Commissioner Elliot Belgard said, “We all know what happened. We lost our food service provider, we can’t get anyone to do it, we need to do it ourselves. We do think we can get it under the ARPA funds because it’s basically due to Covid that we don’t have someone providing food service.”

Klanderud said as soon as the option of getting a kitchen moves forward, they would look for a company to actually provide food service.

A motion was made to go ahead with the project.

Moving to other matters, Doug Hartke of the Fox Lake Conservation League was present to notify the board of a recent purchase of land.

“Last Tuesday we purchased 80 acres in Elm Creek Township,” Hartke said.

He said current taxes this year are $2,774. Based on their appraisal of $800,000, the future PILT payment should be $6,000.

“Fox Lake will restore the parcel to native forms and grasses and will restore 25 to 35 acres of wetland on the parcel,” Hartke said.

Belgard asked about the high cost of the land and whether that was an indicator of it being prime farmland. Hartke said it’s middle range, not high end.

Belgard asked whether the land was bought in an auction and someone was bidding against them to use it as farmland, to which Hartke said “yes.”

“That’s important for us to know, but I guess we don’t have action on it,” Belgard said.

After Fox Lake Conservation League restores the land, it will be transferred to the DNR in 2022 or 2023.

The board also heard a brief update on the courthouse dome project. County Coordinator Scott Higgins said they are waiting for four new eagle statues, which will sit at the base of the dome. They’ve been delayed and are now slated to come Oct. 15.

He said that the while the unveiling ceremony was supposed to be held this month, it will be pushed back to next spring or summer.

“Construction is supposed to start this week on the roof. They’ll be working on that from now until December when the timeline says it should be complete,” Higgins said.

Commissioner Richard Koons said he’s noticed there are some issues with the second hand on the clock. He said he’s noticed that it stalls quite often. Smith said someone told her that the clock was off by four minutes.

In other action, the board:

— Set the proposed tax levy at a 3.87 percent increase.

— Held a brief ceremony to recognize Martin County employees for serving in increments of five years from five to 35 years. New employees were also recognized.

— Approved Alex Young-Williams, Lead for America Fellow, to help with broadband efforts and sit on the broadband citizen committee.

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