2/21/2013 9:23:00 PM County to look at moving Historical Society
by Paul Martin
Goodhue County Board kept business to a minimum in a 15-minute meeting on February 19th, then joined with County Department heads and administrators to talk about priorities for 2013. One motion was passed 5 to 0: to set up a committee to look at the idea of moving the Goodhue County Historical Society into the Citizen's Building.
The Historical Society is now housed in a former old people's home on College Hill in Red Wing. The building is large, and enjoys sweeping views of the town, but it is not central, and has serious ongoing maintenance problems. Commissioner Ron Allen, the Board representative on the Museum Board, is excited by the possibility of moving the Society to the Citizen's Building in downtown Red Wing.
"The current building has plenty of space, but is out of the way," he said. "In the long term, the museum is not sustainable where it is. The Citizen's Building would bring it downtown, though there would be limits on space. And since it is a listed building, we would have some leverage with looking for state support."
Bob Davis, County Veterans' Officer added, "2014 is a major bonding year for the state. In the past, Historical Societies have done well with grants in these years."
If plans for the move are approved, the goal is now to submit plans by the fall of 2013 in hopes of state support. The Historical Society's website is http://www.goodhuehistory.mus.mn.us/.
Hwy 52/9 Junction: Enough Study, Get it Funded
No topic energizes the Board more than the dangerous junction of Hwys 52, 9 and 1 south of Cannon Falls. Lynda Boudreau, of Congressman John Kline's office, reported to the Board that Rep. Kline had met with the new State Transportation Commissioner and raised the need for action.
Commissioner Jim Bryant noted there would be a meeting in Cannon Falls on March 7 with the County Engineers for Goodhue, Dakota and Olmsted Counties. "We need something to happen more than just study," he said. "It really comes down to funding."
Commissioner Rich Samuelson told Boudreau, "We are grateful to Rep. Kline for getting us the seed money that got the Hwy 52/24 flyover in Cannon Falls started. At the same time, I do wish he would get more involved in transportation. We need more help from him for the Hwy 9 junction." County Attorney Steve Betcher said he believes the temporary solution proposed for the area is "dangerous." The Board will discuss the problem and plan their next moves in March.
Public/Private Partnership for Mental Health
Board Chair Dan Rechtzigel said, "Over the last few years, Federal and State support has been cut more and more, while mandates given the counties stay the same." Meeting mental health needs is one of the areas where the County has to do more with less.
According to Allen, Goodhue County is one of only three Minnesota counties that have not privatized Mental Health. Health and Social Services staff, led by Administrator Nina Arnesen, and the Board are looking at public/private partnerships with South Country Health Alliance and the Mayo Clinic. Arnesen noted that, as the Affordable Health Care Act takes effect, many more people will have health insurance, and there will be more emphasis on preventative care.
PUC to Consider Status of New Era Wind Farm
The State Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hold a public meeting on February 28 in St. Paul to consider issues raised by the changes in ownership of the AWA Goodhue / New Era Wind Farm proposed for the Goodhue area. At stake, among other issues, is the favored C-BED (Community-Based Energy Development) status the scheme enjoys because of its original locally-based ownership. The developers now appear to be 100% owned and based in Nevada. Betcher noted that there is nothing to stop the development going ahead at present, but said, "I am encouraged that the PUC is going to look at the questions raised about the current status of the proposal."