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

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Kettle River County Garage saved


Commissioner Gary Peterson announced at the beginning of the week that the Carlton County Transportation Department, after much study and citizen input, had decided to keep the Kettle River County Garage open as a base of operations for the area’s grader. Letters are going out to all governmental units served in southwestern Carlton County.

The county’s Barnum garage is in the process of upgrading and adding on to provide room for equipment that continues to increase in size as the years go by. Construction work is ahead of schedule. The old shop has been gutted and renovation work is continuing in that section of the project. The grade is completed and footings are going in. It had been feared that contaminated soil would be found at the construction site and cause costly mitigation. No contamination was found.

Plans were considered to make space for the Kettle River grader at the new Barnum garage and close the Kettle River facility. Reasons cited are:

1. Worker safety was considered because Kettle River is a one person shop and the safety of the worker is first priority.

2. Machinery has been upgraded since the building was built in the 1970’s and current machinery is more efficient and cost effective to run longer distances.

3. There are continuing operating costs for equipment and utilities for a single worker operation.

“We understand that residents are worried that their level of service would be diminished,” writes Carlton County Engineer JinYeene Neumann in a letter to be sent out to the Kettle River area. “We apologize for not communicating better with residents on this issue. This was not our intent.”

Recently, Commissioner Peterson had attended a Split Rock Township board meeting at which over 15 people attended. “Not one person there thought the closure of the Kettle River garage was a good idea,” related Peterson. “I am glad that it has worked out to keep the garage open. My constituents support that action.”

In other County news:

The state bonding bill has not passed the Minnesota Legislature and includes potential money for the Hwy 210 waterline from the City of Carlton to the Interstate Hwy 35 business area. The House of Representatives proposal funds the whole $10.5 million anticipated cost yet the Senate version comes in at $9 million. Negotiations continue.

More than $61,000 has been expended on general operating supplies for the County’s response to COVID-19. Costs continue to mount. The State Legislature is anticipated to approve $2-3 million of federal dollars for costs to the County due to the pandemic.


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