County bids farewell to Fingalson after three decades of service

Of all Wright County employees, Wayne Fingalson has seen as much or more than just about anyone. Serving as Wright County highway engineer for the last 31 years, Fingalson was honored at the county board meeting Aug. 7, his final official day on the job.
He was committed to safety throughout his career, insisting that any new construction eliminate dangerous curves and blind intersections, for example.
Fingalson was the son of an engineer and admits that the work was in his own blood since childhood. Creating safer roads for county residents and visitors to travel has been more than a passing fancy. It’s been a life ambition.
“Safety has clearly been a passion for me,” Fingalson said. “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘The care of human life and happiness is the first and only objective of good government.’ The safety programs we did in Wright County were focused on that line of thinking – that the care for human life is our objective. Safety was a passion for me in this job, especially with the county growing as much as it has and more challenges arising along with that increase.”
When Fingalson began with Wright County, Buffalo was its largest city with 3,000 residents. As he leaves his post, Buffalo has five times the population, and, eight of the county’s cities and two townships all have populations greater than 3,000.
“The exciting part of the job has been all the changes,” Fingalson said. “The population increase has been a challenge, but, for me, it’s been the technological advantages that we’ve seen. The computer has impacted just about every aspect of our business. We have technology to tell us the ideal mix ratio for de-icing roads in the winter. We have made technological advancements in road construction and, when someone has a really good idea that works, we have the ability to share information and improve our own performance.”
On his watch, Wright County replaced 50 bridges, repaved 870 miles of road and rebuilt 130 miles of county roads and highways. While he may not be that well known to the people who travel the roads he has maintained for 31 years, Fingalson’s legacy will be indelible in Wright County. Lives have been saved because of the road improvements he insisted on completing. His engineer father would be proud.
“I feel like I made a positive contribution to the people of Wright County,” said Fingalson. “That was my job and I took my responsibility seriously. I’d like to think that my passion for safety has made life better in Wright County.”
In other agenda items Aug. 7, the board:
* Authorized budget transfers of $325,000 to various departments from the county’s Budget 100. The transfers are done annually to cover costs for step increases, benefits, health insurance contributions and salary adjustments.
* Approved a three-year professional services contract with SRF Consulting Group, Inc. SRF has represented Wright County and the Hwy. 55 Corridor Coalition since 2004, providing technical and administrative assistance.
* Received an update from the Ditch Committee on four county ditches that are in need of repair. The board received quotes for getting rid of floating bogs on County Ditch 24. The estimated cost to remove the bogs was approximately $4,500.
* Approved a maintenance contract with Meeker County for two shared line segments. During the recent update of the Wright County map, it was discovered the two bordering road segments never had formal maintenance agreements in place. Meeker County has approved the contract, which was patterned after similar agreements the county has for roads shared with McLeod County.