County pedals for link in bike trail

Many years ago, a cross-country trail was envisioned with the purpose of allowing bike riders to follow the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. At their Aug. 14 meeting, Wright County commissioners voted to authorize MnDOT and the county highway and parks departments to complete the county’s portion of that trail.
Parks Administrator Marc Mattice said the Mississippi River Trail program was first brought before the board in 2010.
“The 3,000-mile trail system will run from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico,” Mattice said. “The route utilizes bicycle-friendly roads and multi-use pathways. The trail started in the early 1990s between New Orleans and St. Louis. MnDOT is focusing its efforts on the Minnesota route and will rely heavily on road shoulders, low-volume paved roads and separate pathways. Approximately 60 percent of the route in Minnesota will be established on local, township and county roads, 25 percent on state roads and the remaining on state, regional and local trails.”
The Mississippi River Trail generally will parallel the Great River Road, and MnDOT will provide signage and marketing for the trail. The trail in Wright County will run along CSAH 75 from the north county line in Clearwater to Monticello, along CSAH 39 from Monticello to Otsego and along CSAH 42 from Otsego to the county line at Dayton.
“It’s a program that has been a long time in the making and it continues to work its way north,” Mattice said. “We’re happy to be a part of this program and hope that it will get a lot of use by riders who want to travel the full length of the trail.”
In a related motion, the board authorized Mattice and Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins to represent the county’s interests regarding trail development and designation in Wright County.
In other agenda items Aug. 14, the board:
* Set a bid opening for a two-mile cleanup segment of Joint County Ditch 15 in Stockholm Township, which is shared by Wright, Meeker and McLeod counties. Four vendors have already expressed interest, and sealed bids will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27.
Bids will be opened at the Aug. 28 board meeting.
* Approved hiring William Waytas, of Nagell Appraisal and Consulting, to represent the county in an ongoing dispute with a land owner who is disputing appraisal rates over the last four years. The property, near the fork of the Crow River, includes a private home that in 2008 was valued at $4 million but has since dropped to $2.2 million. The land owner contends the property is worth $1.9 million and is seeking a valuation of that figure for each of the last four years. Barring a settlement, the case is scheduled for trial Nov. 13.
* Accepted minutes from the technology committee. The committee discussed the streaming of county board meetings on the county’s website. Two firms that perform such work made proposals, offering both live streaming and on-demand options. The board took no immediate action, rather laying it over until the budget process is finished for next year.
* Postponed consideration of bids for the Montrose Safe Routes to School trail project. The county served as a sponsoring agent for the program because Montrose has a population of less than 5,000 and requires a county sponsorship to access federal grant money. The project’s estimated cost was $155,000, but two bids that were received came in $35,000 and $40,000 above the estimate. The item was laid over so city officials can discuss the bids and decide whether to accept the lowest bid or reject them both.
* Authorized the county’s employee wellness committee to sponsor after-hours yoga and zumba classes for employees in the old county jail gymnasium. Zumba classes will meet Tuesdays from September to December. Yoga classes will meet Thursdays from September to December.