County Board joins fight to improve Hwy. 23

With the goal of improving the Highway 23 corridor that passes through the Marshall Area and Granite Falls north — the Highway 23 Coalition was formed. Aaron Backman, Director of the Kandiyohi County and Willmar Economic Development Authority and a board member of the Highway 23 Coalition, Tuesday told the county board the coalition has been lobbying for an attaining funding but has much more to do. “We would certainly welcome participation by Lyon County,” said Backman.

“We should have somebody on that board to give our input,” said Lyon County Commissioner Rick Anderson. “This is your opportunity,” Backman said. “We also want to encourage business people (to get involved),” he said.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow made the motion to become a member of the Highway 23 Coalition at a cost of $1,500. “This year has been eventful for funding for the coalition,”said Backman. “We now have 100 paid members, including businesses, individuals and government officials,” he said. “We have nine counties that have joined to fill the gaps in four- lane access,” he added.

“We were disappointed when all funding went to projects in the Twin Cities. But we didn’t quit fighting (for funds).” The legislature finally approved funding for the coalition for the final two legs of the Highway 23 four-lane between Willmar and Interstate 94.

There funds totaled about $105 million. Governor Mark Dayton signed the legislation. “We have the possibility of other funding,” Backman added. He said the Coalition is “reaching out” to others to join such as Duluth and Sioux Falls to extend the scope of the coalition. “We received funding but there are other projects needed on Highway 23,” Backman said.

The Marshall area group has asked for funding for two by-pass projects. And, “In Lyon County, you may have other projects as well.” Now, it will run from I-90 to I-35 in the northeast.

In the past it ran from Marshall to the Willmar area. The coalition has approved by-law changes including area included in the project (Duluth and Sioux Falls).

IN OTHER action the board: •Noted Southwest Health and Human Services gave notice of intent to vacate a portion of the office space and tech administration space located on the ground floor that they’ve been renting from the county. That’s a total of 1,960 square feet. The county was to make $17,640 for 2019; $18,620 in 2020 and $19,600 in 2021. So the financial impact is a total of $55,860. SWHHS is downsizing its space needs, but will still maintain some space in the government center. County Administrator Loren Stomberg indicated he has some interest from outside sources toward renting the space.

•Approved a resolution recommending Gary Schimbeno and Shelly Sweetman to the Red Rock Rural Water Board. Schimbeno is an incumbent and Sweetman was recommended to fill the spot of Dave Hulstein, who resigned from the board.

The Tracy and Garvin area in Lyon County is included in the Red Rock Rural Water area.

•Approved a grant agreement and passed a resolution authorizing the county to enter into agreement with MnDOT for federal aid participation in an effort to create safer roads in the county.

The board previously agreed to a 20 percent local match to update the county roads to create better safety. Federal safety grant dollars pick up 80 percent of the cost. Lyon County’s share is estimated at $9,000. County Engineer Aaron VanMoer said a safety plan that includes completed grant applications will be ready to submit for State and Federal safety money.

•Agreed to make the final payment to Duininck, Inc. of Prinsburg for work done on County Road 10 and Main Street in Cottonwood.

Major improvements of this project included new storm sewer system, bituminous surfacing, curb, gutter and sidewalk. The final payment was for $66,181.90.

Approved by County Board ... An agreement with Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., of Kansas City, MO for $105,000 to provide landfill consultation services was approved by the Lyon County Board on Tuesday.

Aaron Backman with Commissioner Steve Ritter in the background. Staff Photo by Byron Higgin.

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