County hosts high school students at boy/girl day

By John Holler

High school students learn about how government operates in the classroom, but on April 24, approximately 50 Wright County high school juniors got the chance to see how county government works firsthand.

Students representing Buffalo, Dassel-Cokato, Delano, Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted, Maple Lake, Monticello and Rockford attended the annual Boy/Girl County Day, which began by sitting in with a question-and-answer session with the Wright County Board of Commissioners.

It was the start of a long day for the students, who heard presentations from the county attorney, sheriff, planning and zoning, surveyor, parks, information technology, human services, highway, extension, auditor-treasurer, assessor, recorder and veteran services departments.

The county has played host to the students through a joint project with the American Legion Clubs of Wright County and the goal is to not only show students how county government operates but to encourage them to consider careers in public service.

“These kids are the future,” Board Chair Rose Thelen said. “We hope that they see something on their visit that sparks an interest in them and shows them the positives of being involved in public service. It’s one thing to learn about government and how it works. It’s another to see it for yourself. That’s the main benefit of this program and hopefully the students enjoyed it as much as those of us in the county did.”

In other items on the April 24 agenda, the board:

  • Accepted the minutes of the committee of the whole, which discussed the different plans for redistricting the county commissioner districts. The 10 county maps were effectively reduced down to three - Maps 1, 5 and 7 (all of which are available for viewing on the county’s website). Commissioners Dick Mattson and Elmer Eichelberg said during the committee meeting that they were leaning toward Map No. 5, which would significantly change commissioner districts and force Commissioners Thelen and Pat Sawatzke to run against one another, since they would be in the same district. Thelen said she favors Map No. 7 because it would keep her and Sawatzke in different districts as well as maintain one commissioner district that would be consisted entirely of small towns, townships and lakes areas. She said the other two primary maps being considered would marginalize rural areas, since all would have a major population center that would contain the majority of voters. The board will conduct a public hearing at its May 1 meeting, at which point a final redistricting map will need to be approved.
  • Received the annual report from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernment Trust, the county’s insurance carrier. Created in 1979, MCIT provides combined insurance coverage to member counties at a lower rate than outside insurers and annually provides significant savings to county governments. Last year, Wright County received a dividend check of more than $600,000.
  • Received the annual report from county medical examiner Dr. Quinn Strobl. In 2011, there were 387 deaths in the county, including two homicides - the first homicides in the county since 2008.
  • Instructed Parks Administrator Marc Mattice to obtain a second quote for the construction of a fence on the border of Ney Park and an adjoining farm property. The landowner requested a fence be constructed on a common boundary line with the park and state statute requires that the county pay half of the cost for such a construction because it meets the size requirement in the statute, which has been on the books for more than 100 years. However, only one quote was initially obtained and a second was needed to meet county policy of competitive bidding.
  • Heard a report from the meeting of the Highway 55 Corridor Coalition. With funding for the project drying up at the federal level, there was discussion of disbanding the organization, but it was voted to keep the coalition together in the event funding sources return.
  • Approved a letter of support for Wright County Community Action for the WCCA’s Head Start Program. The endorsement is needed because the program is competing with other programs for federal funding.
  • Announced a meeting notice for the leadership team spring retreat from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 at the Ney Park Nature Center.
  • Approved a traffic control signal agreement with the City of Hanover for the signal light being constructed at the intersection of CSAH 19 and CSAH 34.