Dirt Devils take over trail work
By Jean Ruzickajruzicka@parkrapidsenterprise.com Akeley area's two ATV clubs were at loggerheads this week, both vying to obtain grant-in-aid funding to maintain Round River Drive, an 85-mile all-terrain vehicle trail in the Paul Bunyan State For...
By Jean Ruzicka
Akeley area’s two ATV clubs were at loggerheads this week, both vying to obtain grant-in-aid funding to maintain Round River Drive, an 85-mile all-terrain vehicle trail in the Paul Bunyan State Forest area.
The Timberland Dirt Devils received the nod; Akeley Paul Bunyan ATV Trailriders got the ax.
Commissioner Dan Stacey commended the 50-member Timberland Dirt Devils for developing a map of the system and a website, as well as volunteering for the Adopt-a-Highway program.
“I like what I see,” Stacey said of the maps - 2,500 produced with the aid of a grant from Polaris - and the website. “It corresponds with Hubbard County tourism.”
Members of the Timberland Dirt Devils will provide equipment to maintain the trail, Steven Werner explained. The requested grant amount is $22,000, with the club reimbursed on a percentage basis for labor, equipment and liability insurance.
Nels Kramer and Jerry Cole arrived on behalf of the Paul Bunyan Trailriders, who had a five-year contract for maintenance of the trail, expiring next year.
Kramer pointed out he was working on the trail, named for a bit of Bunyan folklore, before the DNR grant-in-aid funding system was established. The best ATV riding in the Midwest is here, Kramer told the commissioners.
The Akeley Paul Bunyan ATV Trailriders were asking for a $43,704 grant. Kramer told commissioners he owns 30 pieces of equipment valued at $200,000 to work on the trails.
Stacey commended the Paul Bunyan ATV Trailriders for the work done on the trail, but questioned why two clubs were fighting over the same area. “How do we get the two groups to work together?”
David Schotzko, area supervisor for DNR Parks and Trails, lent some history to the squabble.
Seven years ago, the club split, he said, originally planning to divide maintenance of the ATV trail by east-west boundaries. Another option was one club being in charge of ditches, the other the state forest. “But it’s easier to manage with one club.”
An agreement was subsequently reached with the Paul Bunyan Trailriders.
Last year, the two clubs vied for the maintenance grant, Kramer’s group earning the nod due to the five-year agreement. The decision was made to go to a one-year contract.
“It’s the commissioners’ prerogative to determine the sponsor,” Schotzko said.
“The DNR will work with anyone willing to do the work,” he said. “We’ll be meeting over the winter to go over what’s expected and lay out ground rules.”
“Trail ambassadors,” he explained, send reports on trail conditions.
The one-year contract begins in June. Objectives include maintenance, addressing trail issues in a timely manner, improving the trail northwest of CSAH 25, improving the washed out trail along Highway 64 and – ironically – keeping open communication with other area clubs.
Schotzko is hoping the clubs reconcile differences, which would bump up available equipment and volunteers.
“It’s a nice problem to have,” he said of the two clubs competing for the task. “But it’s bittersweet.”
In other action, the commissioners:
n Scheduled a public hearing for consideration of a new off-sale liquor establishment in Todd Township, the store to be located 3.8 miles north at 19866 Highway 71.
The hearing will be held at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18.
n Set a groundbreaking ceremony for the Heritage Living Center addition and remodeling project for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4.
The board approved HLC construction re-bids, with the project contract totaling $14,325,884.
Construction is underway. Commissioner Kathy Grell suggested a webcam be installed so interested parties can monitor progress.
n Approved allowing public access to a newly created logging road in Schoolcraft Township, at land commissioner Mark Lohmeier’s recommendation.
At the last board meeting Schoolcraft Township supervisor Mike Studanski had asked that the road that begins a mile west of the junction of Schoolcraft Drive and CSAH 44 be closed.
But Lohmeier pointed out it’s the only public road motorists can use to gain access to 2,600 acres of public land. Trails coming off private land should be designated as non-motorized, he said, the exemption being big game hunting.
Studanski questioned putting money into a road that’s used primarily for logging.
The road will not be graded on a regular basis, Lohmeier said. And timber sales amounting to $60,000 to $80,000 are planned over the next three years.
Lohmeier presented results of the recent timber auction totaling $271,979, with prices per cord up from July. Lumber sales total $1.5 million this year, he said. Tracts 9, 12 and 15 were removed, to be re-evaluated for value and method of sale.
n Discussed amendments to update the county’s ordinance addressing the sale of liquor, specifically discouraging sales to underage consumers.
The amendments would essentially bring the ordinance in line with state law, county attorney Don Dearstyne explained, with liquor establishment owners accepting accountability and training servers.
This has been a year-long process, he said of reviewing other Minnesota county ordinances.
The goal is educating and enforcement, Dearstyne said, to eliminate violations by discouraging and/or preventing underage drinking.
The amendments will be sent to the Planning Commission in December.
n Approved the purchase of a landfill compactor from Polk County at a cost $60,000 with a $3,800 shipping fee.
The wheels of the machine used for compacting demolition material have seven-inch “teeth,” compared with the current machine’s three-inch molars.
The 1997 compactor has a rebuilt engine.
n Met deputy assessor/environment technician Lauren Anderson, who began her duties in September. She previously worked at Heritage Living Center.
n Approved increasing the sheriff’s part-time jailer/dispatcher pool from 15 to 18. This will give the department more flexibility and decrease overtime costs, sheriff Cory Aukes told commissioners.
n Accepted two $750 grants from Enbridge for the purchase of a radio and ballistic shield for the sheriff’s department.
n Accepted a jail service agreement between the sheriff’s department and TurnKey Corrections for inmate services, pending review by Dearstyne.
A cash machine has been implemented so staff doesn’t handle cash for inmates. The department receives a commission for items sold.
n Approved a low quote of $18,960 from Charlie’s Boats and Marine, Park Rapids, to purchase a boat, motor and trailer via a federal grant.
n Learned Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation won its appeal on the valuation of its pipeline for assessment years 2008-12.
The ruling by the Minnesota Tax Court reduced the valuation in assessment years 2008-11 and increased the valuation in 2012, resulting in a decrease in valuation of approximately $45 million.
The judge found the decision binding to counties, but the figures were not yet available per county, Hubbard County assessor Ginger Woodrum told commissioners this week.
The Department of Revenue has not yet filed an appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court, Woodrum said. “But it’s likely.”
n Approved Phase II courthouse construction changes totaling $31,618 and $11,166 for the county attorney office.
n Approved additional grant-in-aid applications for trail maintenance in Hubbard County. The Paul Bunyan Forest Riders will maintain the Martineau Recreational Off-Highway Motorcycle Trail and the Northwoods Riders will maintain the Schoolcraft ATV trail.
n Approved final payment of $81,095 to Redstone Construction in Mora for the CSAH 18 bridge replacement project on Shallow Lake.
n Reported the south transfer station will return to Saturday hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. effective today (Oct. 25).
n Approved the purchase of a tractor/mower at a cost of $21,763.
n Set a board work session for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3 to review the “organizational structure” of staffing in the courthouse.
n Set a “lunch room” meeting for county employees from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10.
n Reported eight applications have been received for the finance/auditor/ treasurer position. A “score sheet” will be drafted with commissioners reviewing applicants. The top five will be interviewed.