YMC Board caps off justice center camera changes

GRANITE FALLS — The Yellow Medicine County Board approved a last step Tuesday in upgrades to surveillance camera systems at the county justice center.

The board approved new cameras for the veterans’ memorial area and the north side of the building. The camera units and related wiring, which will cost $2,860, are a last step in an upgrade totaling about $100,000 that centered around improvements to sheriff’s department reception area and jail cameras.

County Information Technology Director Dennis Pederson said Tuesday’s board action will connect the north side camera sites to the system serving the courts area of the justice building. Both that system and the jail cameras are viewed by sheriff’s dispatchers.

“It makes sense to connect them with the campus-wide system rather than the one for the jail,” Pederson said. “There’s more consistency with the overall foot traffic.”

Commissioners asked if some of the money received in donations for the veterans memorial could be used to fund the camera for the memorial area. By using donation money, county dollars will be needed for only the north entrance.

“The donation agreement allows for any expenses that relate to the memorial,” said county Finance Manager Lacey Rigge. “A surveillance camera fits into that category.”

In other action, commissioners called for a “second chance” collection of used electronics, appliances and other products that are too large for weekly recycling.

One-day spring collection sites in Canby, Clarkfield and Granite Falls met with limited success this spring after collection publicity didn’t specify whether they were only for city residents or available to rural participants as well. The advertising process and questions from the public were discussed with Lyon County Environmental Specialist Roger Schroeder, who coordinates special product collections in Yellow Medicine County through a service contract between the two counties.

“They need to be planned at the county level to encourage participation from rural residents,” said Commissioner Ron Antony. “Their tax dollars help to pay for recycling, so it’s important that they have this kind of opportunity.”

After noting that efforts to limit collection expenses appear to have created an impression that it was for city residents only, Schroeder recommended trying another collection process later in the summer that includes more direct outreach to townships. He said publicity will be adjusted in ways that clarify a goal for participation beyond city limits.

During the commissioner reports segment of the meeting, Commissioner John Berends said the regional multi-county Countryside Public Health board turned down a request from the Benson School District in Swift County to consider collaboration for school nursing services following a district staff reduction.

He said Countryside Public Health has provided programming to some small-sized schools, including the charter schools in Clarkfield and Echo, that don’t have nursing staff. It hasn’t, however, gone as far as having one or more shared positions.

“There’s a difference between programs and shared staff,” Berends said. “It would have led to similar requests from other school districts. We didn’t want to open it up to that.”

Commissioner Gary Johnson informed the rest of the board about an administrative review from the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the idea of warning lights to alert motorists about the U.S. Highway 59 and Minnesota Highway 67 intersection in Clarkfield.

He said MnDOT decided that regular roadside tree trimming and the stop sign are adequate. One of the concerns about granting the request for signals is that it would be followed by more of the same kind of interest from other locations around the state.

Additional findings were that the crossing is categorized as an urban intersection with a 30 mile per hour speed limit and that it has no history of fatalities.

Johnson said his next step will be to bring his concern about the intersection within Clarkfield to the Area Transportation Partnership, which might help in asking MnDOT to reconsider.

“It’s not completely an urban intersection since the west side is near the edge of town,” he said. “It’s also part of Highway 59, one of the rare places where a federal highway yields to a state road.”