Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Tim Franklin
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Pine completes $12.5 million in projects


Pine County Engineer Mark LeBrun presented the 2014 annual roads report as part of the county board meeting last Tuesday morning in Sandstone.

LeBrun said the county did approximately $12.5 million in projects which included several major culvert replacements, 5.5 miles of reconstruction, 29.5 miles of bituminous resurfacing, a federal trail project in Pine City, and also completed demolition of the former county jail.

In addition to road projects, LeBrun said upgrades and maintenance work was finalized at public works buildings over the last two years. Future replacement of heavy equipment and fleet vehicles have been adequately funded at $425,000 per year. Additional funding will be needed in the future for adjustments in inflation and technology, he said.

The fund balance is around $2.1 million. In an average year, there are between $9 million-10 million in projects completed.

“I’m glad we are not an additional burden to the county,” LeBrun told the board.

Looking ahead, LeBrun said they will use the wheelage tax to fund other projects in the county. He recently received a report that two bridges completed in 1980 can no longer carry the load for additional hauling vehicles. He put the blame on this on the state Legislature, which has added more allowed weights to vehicles.

“Engineers are very concerned about it,” LeBrun told the board. “These heavy, heavy loads do damage.”

LeBrun said there are about 400 miles of surfaced road in Pine County, and they repair or replace about 15 miles of roads on average annually.

LeBrun said he is satisfied with the number of staff in the roads department, but during the winter of 2013-14, they could have used one more person.

At the meeting, LeBrun also recognized Robin Mathews, county surveyor, who was recently selected to serve on the Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design. This board oversees licenses in all these areas, and also investigate complaints, along with writing administrative rules. There are 21 people in the state who serve on this board. There is no pay for the position, but the state reimburses board members for expenses. LeBrun said it was a great honor for Mathews.

LeBrun also asked the board to see if there was interest in applying for an electric vehicle grant. The board gave approval. There are four counties in the northeast region that could get one electric vehicle. It would be a lease, and the cost would total $12,000. LeBrun said there has been some discussion of having a charging station in Hinckley.

Consent agenda

During the consent agenda, the county board approved two law enforcement contracts, one with Pathfinder Village and another for Pine City. Contracts for Hinckley and Sandstone were previously approved.

The board further approved a contract with the city of Pine City for prosecution services with the county attorney. The cities of Sandstone and Hinckley have recently approved having the county attorney do their prosecutions as well.

The county authorized three new hires, Joseph Broneak as a deputy sheriff, Christopher Nippoldt as assistant county attorney and Jamie Dickey as a part-time public health nurse. Former Assistant County Attorney Aimee Cupelli recently took a similar position in Chisago County. The two other positions were also vacant.

At the meeting, Sheriff Jeff Nelson told the board it was National Public Safety Communications week and wanted to recognize the efforts of dispatchers in the county.

Several county Health and Human Services social workers were also in attendance to give ribbons to the county board for recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“We really appreciate what you do. It has to be a tough job,” said board Chairman Stephen Hallan of Pine City.

Hallan said he never wanted to be on a board that questioned funding of this work in the county.

The board made an official proclamation on the month.


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