By Anna Jauhola
For the last 10 years, Keith Klegstad has been the assistant county engineer. As the position’s duties have changed due to the loss of personnel, Klegstad’s position has become increasingly hands-on.
At the Kittson County Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Klegstad again requested to be classified under working condition 3. In December, County Engineer Kelly Bengtson made the same request, but the commission required Klegstad to fill out a Bjorkman study, which he did. However, the study came back without any recommendation regarding his working condition request.
“My argument is that as assistant engineer, I am required to be MnDOT certified as an inspector and I do go out on inspections,” Klegstad said. “As assistant engineer, I am also the team leader on bridge inspections and that requires me to be on every bridge safety inspection.”
He also is out during the summer working on project inspections, construction staking, original surveys, ditch inspections, maintenance projects, emergency bridge inspections and more. Klegstad said these duties put him in significantly more hazardous conditions on a regular basis.
He is currently the only employee under the county engineer in both the maintenance and engineering departments who is not classified under working condition 3.
“I accepted it when I took this position,” Klegstad said. “But I tell you what spurred this request is when I fell through the ice into 4 feet of water. Enough’s enough. I feel my job is not any more or less hazardous than everybody else in the department.”
Commissioner Loren Younggren said he’d like to see the personnel committee discuss and handle Klegstad’s request before the commission makes a decision. Commission Chair Theresia Gillie agreed, noting the committee can do some research first. Commissioner Leon Olson said he’d like to see them follow protocol.
“I’m fine with that,” Klegstad said.
The commission tabled the issue until the Feb. 4 meeting.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved Social Services Director Kathy Johnson to proceed in discussions with Marshall County to possibly create a family-based services worker shared position between the counties. Johnson said this person would be half-time in Kittson and half-time in Marshall but based in the courthouse in Hallock. The employee would focus solely on working with families in the Social Services department to help them with skills building.
• Approved purchasing a new server for $44,454.10. The current computer server system is 11 years old. The new server will replace two virtual servers and one server that isn’t hooked up. The former GIS server will be repurposed as a monitor for the new servers. Wikstrom Telephone Company obtain-ed the quote and will install the server, so Commissioner Corey Wikstrom abstained from the vote.
• Approved the 2018 annual financial audit presented by Tracee Bruggeman of Brady Martz & Associates accounting firm from Thief River Falls. Bruggeman said the firm had an unmodified opinion from the previous year, reporting no instances of noncompliance. They identified a few findings relating to material weakness regarding internal control, but Bruggeman said this is usual for an entity the size of Kittson County. She recommended internal checks on occasion. Bruggeman also said the firm found the county’s procurement policy was not up to date and the county did not submit an audit collection form. Bruggeman also discussed a management letter the firm sent to the county regarding unremitted property taxes and bank reconciliation practices. These issues have already been or are in the process of being remedied, said Eric Christensen, county administrator.
• Approved the 2020 Joint Ditch Levies: State ditches – #50, $6,600; #72 $11,580; #90 $13,390; and #95, $0. Judicial Ditch #33, $1,500.
• Approved an updated bridge replacement priorities resolution for a township bridge in St. Vincent Township and box culverts along County State Aid Highway 14 by Karlstad.
• Approved final vouchers to pay Knife River Materials for work on County State Aid Highway 22, the Two River Turnpike, totaling $65,974.30.
• Approved a contract to Davidson Construction for $362,834.55 to construct the turning lane and frontage road for the canola plant. MnDOT will let Kittson County use the entire TED Grant, which was $315,000.
• Heard from representatives from RDO Equipment (John Deere) and Ironhide Equipment (Bobcat) regard-ing their bids to sell the county a tracked skid steer loader. RDO bid $64,154 and Ironhide bid $64,721.52. Zeigler CAT also put in a bid for a skid steer at $84,950 but did not have a representative at the meeting. The commission tabled the issue to let the highway department examine what each has to offer and make a recommendation to the board. The highway department has $65,000 budgeted to purchase the machine, which will be used for various jobs but will really help with flood cleanup.
The commission will make a decision at its next regular meeting, which is on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 9 a.m.
• Approved the highway department to seek bids on one new motor grader to replace the 9-year-old unit 101, which is no longer under warranty.
• Approved the highway department to advertise for equipment rental rates, aggregate production, county-wide regravel and roadside mowing work for this year.
• Set the board of equalization and appeals meeting date for Tuesday, June 16 at 9 a.m.
By Anna Jauhola