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Weleski resigns as county engineer, board to advertise

By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Commissioners will again be searching for an engineer after they accepted Andrea Weleski’s resignation on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Weleski has been the county engineer for three years. She said at the meeting that it was a tough decision to make. Commissioner Leon Olson moved to accept the resignation, with regret.
“So is there a plan for an interim again? Are we talking to Lon (Aune)?” asked Commissioner Theresia Gillie.
Olson said he has spoken with a Marshall County commissioner and the discussion has begun. Their engineer Lon Aune is on vacation and that discussion will start later.
Weleski’s last day is Friday, March 29. The commission approved to begin advertising for the position and received a revised engineer’s job description. It will be posted on several sites, along with in the local and area newspapers. Gillie thanks Weleski for giving such an early notice.
“In this type of job, it’s definitely needed to get that much of a headway,” Weleski said.
In the meantime, Weleski is still working on a final project the highway department has been considering for a while. She presented a few chunks of county roads in unorganized townships to be relinquished back to the townships for maintenance – ½ mile of CR 72, 2 miles of CR 57, and 1 mile of CR 75, all in North Red River Township. These roads have low traffic numbers, don’t service a population who live on the roads or are dead ends. The county oversees unorganized townships and the commission acts as those townships’ boards.
“We’re the road authority so we already maintain these roads; we already do all the work on them regardless,” Weleski said.
By turning roads back to a township, that entity can apply for gas tax money to help pay for maintenance. Plus, the roads she proposed to turn back to North Red River Township are all eligible for FEMA funding as they are in a flood plain.
Weleski also proposed to turn back 1 ½ miles of County Road 54 back to Peatland Township, which is also unorganized. This road is not a connector route and sees minimal traffic.
“That’s the start of the process,” she said. “There are other roads, but they’re in organized townships so it’ll be more tricky for townships to take the roads. But as a county, it makes sense to start here and keep going with a few more roads that don’t make sense in terms of maintenance and money, and the county’s road system as a whole.”
To turn roads back to a township, the county would hold a public hearing, notify affected property owners and pass a resolution. Should that happen, the county would agree to maintain the affected roads for two years after they are handed back.
Weleski suggested, in the future, the county could also re-establish some County State Aid Highways such as sections of CSAH 16 and CSAH 10 in North Red River, and the portion of CSAH 1 that runs through Hallock’s downtown. Specifically, by re-establishing CSAH 1 to Birch Avenue from Highway 175 north to Fourth Street, and then out to Highway 75, that opens up Safe Routes to Schools grant funding.
The commission took no action on this issue and Commissioner Ryan Swenson will bring it to the roads committee for further discussion.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved guidelines for requested resolutions and proclamations. This will help the commission in how they decide whether to support requests brought to the board.
• Denied a request from the organization for Hunters for Hunters for a resolution supporting wolf hunts in Minnesota.
• Set the county board of appeals and equalization for Tuesday, June 18 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse. The board will hold its regular meeting that day at 5 p.m.
• Approved a quote from Wiktel for new security fobs on 40 doors in the courthouse, including exterior doors but not including the sheriff’s office, for $80,821.68. Each employee will have a fob, which will open the exterior doors and their corresponding office door. The county received a public safety grant for $91,600 that will cover this cost. They are waiting to hear if the sheriff’s office can be covered under this grant as well.
• Approved a quote from Keith’s Security World in Grand Forks for $5,350 to replace the locks on the courthouse’s 10 vaults. CFO Shirley Swenson said the digital locks will allow for escape should someone get locked into one of the vaults. She added each department that has vaults has money in their budgets for this cost.
• Approved a lease agreement with Pitney Bowes for a new postage meter for $1,177.47 per quarter. This is about $20 cheaper than the previous agreement and it is an updated postage meter.
• Approved the annual ambulance service agreement with Tri-County Emergency Medical Service for $8,562.
• Approved advertising for three to five summer help positions for the highway department.
• Heard from Commis-sioner Theresia Gillie that she is applying for a low-interest loan through Northwest Regional Housing Authority to replace siding and windows on a house she owns in Hallock. Because the commission supports the housing authority, she needed to disclose she was making an application.
The next regular meeting is set for Tuesday, March 5 at 9 a.m., but will be held in Karlstad at the city hall. The upstairs meeting room at the courthouse will be used that day for the presidential primary election.

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