YMC board, Steinbach agree to contract

GRANITE FALLS — The Yellow Medicine County Board reached an agreement Tuesday with Angie Steinbach for her to become the next Yellow Medicine County administrator.

Final details in the process of deciding contractual terms came together Monday and Tuesday. Commissioners met in a special meeting on Monday to finalize an offer for a contract. County Attorney Keith Helgeson said Steinbach accepted the board’s offer Tuesday morning.

“We agreed to terms without delays,” Helgeson said. “It was a very smooth process.”

Steinbach will join Yellow Medicine County with experiences that include her current job as assistant city administrator in Montevideo. She was one of five finalists for the position. Interviews took place earlier this month.

Both Yellow Medicine County and Lyon County have administrators who oversee the activities of all county departments and provide a link in the chain of command between county employees and county boards. Murray County has a county coordinator, a title which usually involves many of the same duties but with more direct supervision by commissioners.

Lincoln County has a county auditor, which is the traditional way of having a department head that organizes board business and tracks the cash (the spending of county revenue). Counties until recently employed both auditors and treasurers. In the days of entirely paper-based accounting, it reduced the potential for fraud by ensuring that one department head would monitor cash flow while another one made actual payment of the bills.

Steinbach will replace current Yellow Medicine County Administrator Peg Heglund, whose last day is scheduled for the end of January.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also voiced support for a stepped up effort to expand broadband Internet service to rural counties.

Yellow Medicine County ranks near the bottom of the list among Minnesota counties for access to broadband. It provides a much more convenient access to the Internet than dial-up alternatives.

The county includes two large areas without any towns that have a population of more than 500 people. One is the southeast side of the county with Hanley Falls, Wood Lake and Echo. The other lies between Clarkfield and Canby with the towns of St. Leo and Porter.

Those and other rural locations are likely to be among the last areas to acquire broadband service.

Commissioner Ron Antony said he’s encouraged by a news release issued last week by Minnesota Sen.-elect Tina Smith which advocated including funds for broadband expansions in the upcoming federal Farm Bill.

Commissioner John Berends said it could be helpful this winter to organize local and regional meetings that allow opportunities to express points of view to federal lawmakers, state legislators, and their staff.

“There might be some interest in meeting with the public,” Berends said. “People would have a chance to explain our service needs.”

Heglund told the board that another key part of broadband expansion will be to encourage Internet providers to find ways of reaching out to potential rural customers.

“It would help if more providers approached us to express interest,” she said. “There are telecommincations investments being made in Minnesota. We just don’t have any control over where that money is spent.”

In a different information-related concern, Antony informed the rest of the board that statewide library funding support was discussed at the most recent meeting of the regional Pioneerland Library System based in Willmar.

He said Pioneerland officials see strong possibilities for a funding increase, which would be the first in nine years.

“There’s a bipartisan bill ready to be introduced and Gary Dahms (a Republican state senator from Redwood Falls whose district includes Yellow Medicine County) is one of the sponsors,” Antony said. “It should at least have a good chance.”

Commissioners also voted to approve a conditional use permit for a non-farm dwelling in a rural preservation area located in Stony Run Township near Montevideo.

County Zoning Coordinator Jolene Johnson said the county planning commission approved the request from Kevin Griess without conditions. It meets a guideline that any rural dwelling have at least three acres of land to allow room for two septic systems, one that would be built or put into service immediately and a second area where a new system could someday be built if needed.

“It fits right in with the surrounding area,” Johnson said. “The only thing that made it unusual is that it’s located next to a subdivision.”

The board also reviewed two upcoming historical anniversaries that are likely to result in special Granite Falls area events.

One involves the Capper-Volstead Act that legalized cooperatives. Rep. Andrew Volstead of Granite Falls helped to spearhead the historic legislation. His former home at the edge of the downtown business district is the site of a museum operated by the Granite Falls Historical Society.

The other anniversary is the Volstead Act, formally the National Prohibition Act, which banned alcohol use in a way that gave rise to lawbreaking trends such as the speakeasy and the making of moonshine in homemade whiskey stills.

“Both are great possibilities for celebrations,” Berends said. “Our museums are also likely to plan exhibits that use artifacts in a way that focus attention on the historic events.”

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