YMC Board OKs IT staff expansion

GRANITE FALLS — Yellow Medicine County will increase its information technology staff to two full-time employees after wide expansion of its IT network in the past 10 years.

The county board approved a request from IT Director Dennis Pederson to increase a part-time position to full-time. A current part-time employee, who has been combining county IT work with similar employment at Prairie’s Edge Casino near Granite Falls, will be offered the full-time opportunity.

Pederson provided information about the growth in computer equipment owned by the county. The number of servers, for example, has increased from four in 2008 to more than a dozen. A wide range of applications have been added in that time period, such as pictometry and document imaging.

He has also tracked the number of service requests made to IT personnel by county staff, which has continued to grow.

“The ticket system for service to other departments clearly shows a need for IT hours,” Pederson said. “We’re the only department that’s used by every county employee. It’s gotten to be more than I can keep doing as the only full-time person.”

The board unanimously approved the request. Commissioner Ron Antony said more IT staffing should help both employees and the public, since people who need county-related information are likely to look for it through online access.

Also at the meeting, Commissioner Glen Kack informed the rest of the board that Canby city officials would be willing to donate about 10 acres of land on the north side of the city near the Canby airport to the county in order to have county-operated waste product demolition services.

The city demo site, like others in the region, demolishes used bricks, lumber and other crushable debris that can’t be reused for a new purpose.

Kack added that he responded to the city by saying he doubted the county would be interested in getting back into demolition services. They were part of county organized solid waste disposal in the past, starting at a time when the former county landfill located in Stony Run Township near Granite Falls and Montevideo was still operating prior to its 1993 closure.

The Canby city-operated site is expandable for 75,000 more cubic yards of demolition debris disposal. With volume averaging about 3,000 cubic yards per year, the capacity would allow it to be used for another 25 years.

“We should let them know we talked about it and aren’t interested,” Antony said. “We wouldn’t want the operating costs of being involved in the demo business.”

A new flood concern was also brought to the full board as Commissioner Greg Renneke summarized 2019 spring flood issues along Wood Lake Creek, a small waterway that flows directly into the Minnesota River near his home in Sioux Agency Township.

Heavy snow depths last winter went far beyond the creek’s capacity. In addition to water from land close to the river, it handles ditch drainage from Joint Ditch 10, one of the largest ditch systems in the eastern part of the county.

“It’s been a threat to the house belonging to one of my neighbors,” Renneke said. “It should be looked at. The creek can’t handle that kind of water.”

The board agreed to gather information with help from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Commissioner John Berends noted that it’s most likely in the best interests of both property owners and natural resources managers to look for ways to stabilize the river channel.

Berends also reported on the activities of a Granite Falls area citizens group that wants to promote fishing and canoe opportunities on the Minnesota River.

Their activities include the goal to maintain and enhance recreational resources such as the canoe portage near the Granite Falls hydroelectrical power site next to the downtown business district. Proposals will include approval as needed by the DNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or both.

“One of the main questions will be handicapped accessibility requirements,” Berends said. “It’s the same kind of standards that came into play when the downtown walking bridge was upgraded. There could be good possibilities for funding support from grants.”