The Sherburne County Board Tuesday approved over $600k for three grants for Midco projects to expand broadband within the county.
The project in Livonia Twp. would provide service (passings) to 169 households, with an additional 72 homes that would also be connected. The total project cost is $580,000, with the township contributing $5,000. The county’s contribution is $68,000.
The second is a $497,000 project in Santiago Twp. with 72 passings, plus another 121 additional homes that would be connected. After the township’s $5,000 contribution, the county’s cost is $276,000.
The third is a project in Becker Twp. with 42 passings and an additional 72 homes that would be connected. The total project cost is $404,000. The county’s cost is $252,000. All three projects would be funded with ARPA money provided to the county through the federal allocation.
The board also approved ARPA funding for Children’s Mental Health training ($40,000), HIPPA Rule Compliance/Cyber Readiness Assessment ($29,500) and equipment for six new squad cars for the sheriff’s department ($115,389.18).
After a 15-minute discussion, the board tabled a vote on awarding a SCORE Grant to Lupulin Brewery in Big Lake.
Lupulin is seeking $17,600 in SCORE funds to purchase a trailer that would allow farmers to transport spent grain generated from brewery operations to feed their livestock, plus a heat blanket to keep the spent grain at the proper temperature, and dump bins for easy transfer of the spent grain from the brewery operation into the trailer. Lupulin is currently generating 546 tons of spent grain a year.
Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said he was not in favor of awarding the grant to Lupulin.
“I just don’t think this meets the standard of what we want to be doing with our funds,” he said.
Schmiesing said there are other breweries in the county, and other farmers who might be interested in the spent grain.
“I don’t know if it’s been shopped around enough to find out if somebody will come and pick up the whole thing,” he said.
Commissioner Tim Dolan felt there could be an arrangement where the trailer and other equipment funded by the SCORE Grant could be shared by other breweries and farmers, as long as everyone could coordinate their schedules.
Asked if there could be language to that effect in the grant, Solid Waste Administrator Dave Lucas said staff could work with the county attorney’s office to modify the application, then bring it back before the board for approval.
The vote was tabled until it comes back re-worded.
At the opening of the public forum, Administrator Bruce Messelt took a moment to offer a personal apology to Teri Dickinson for the actions that took place during open forum at the last board meeting. During her time at the podium, Dickinson was interrupted and escorted out of the board room for comments that were, at the time, considered to be against the county’s policy about personal verbal attacks on another person.
Messelt said he was mistaken for what transpired. He said Dickinson’s speech “did not rise to the level of disruptive behavior that would have warranted the response that she received. I missed the bar on that as I was serving as a parliamentarian and I’m sorry it happened.”
He also apologized to the board and law enforcement.
“I apologize to the commissioners and public safety personnel for placing all of you in such an awkward position due to the decisions and actions I took. As a public servant beholden to the citizens and officials of Sherburne County, I should have done better.”
Messelt said he would be asking the board to approve a staff review of current policies and procedures.
Members of the board also apologized for their part in the incident.
Later, during the public forum when it was her time to speak, Dickinson said she accepted the apology.
In other actions the board:
• Approved an Interim Use Permit (IUP) for Jason Brott for a home business (automotive work) in an existing accessory building on 12.12 acres on 35th Ave. SE in Haven Twp.;
• Approved an IUP for Grant Berquist for a business selling vehicles, boats and farm equipment on 0.55 acres on the service road at 25415 Hwy. 169 in Livonia Twp.;
• Approved a Conditional Use Permit for Robert Kissell for a personal 30x40-foot storage structure on 1.5 acres on 115th Ave. in Palmer Twp.;
• Approved a two-year lease extension with the Sherburne County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for leasing space in the Government Center. SWCD will pay $25,223 in 2023 and $28,393 in 2024;
• Approved a two-year lease extension with Tri-CAP for leased space at the Jackson Street Facility. Tri-CAP will pay $37,143 in 2023 and $41,725 in 2024;
• Approved temporary On-Sale liquor license applications for Clear Lake Lions to be used Sept. 10 on Palmer Day at Palmer Twp. Park, and for Great Lakes Association of Musicians and Artists to be used at Graham Family Farm in Zimmerman Sept. 10;
• Accepted a $3,000 grant from the Initiative Foundation to support child foster care and kinship providers;
• Approved professional service agreements with the Lower and Upper Sioux Indian communities for traditional cultural property surveys. Funding comes from Heritage Partnership Legacy funds;
• Approved an application for a Toward Zero Deaths Safe Roads Grant for 2022-23 in an amount up to $11,032.77 for outreach efforts regarding traffic safety in the community. If awarded, the county would be responsible for paying up to $2,555.04 for equipment and its related software.