County finalizes grandstand burn; OK’s new detective

Published 8:42am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Even if Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow this year, Mower County residents will still see the end of an era.

The controlled burn to demolish the Mower County grandstand has been set for Feb. 2 — Groundhog’s Day — with Feb. 3 as an alternate for weather, according to the county board.

The board took the last small step Tuesday to finalize the controlled burn during its first meeting of the year, as it accepted a letter from the city attorney that states the city won’t be held responsible if anything were to happen.

The grandstand was condemned weeks before the 2012 Mower County Fair, and the county used temporary bleachers for grandstand events.

Burning the grandstand will come at a much lower cost than a traditional demolition.

The board is already discussing plans to have a new structure in place by the 2013 fair. Last week, the county board assigned $500,000 to build a new structure. Work will likely begin this spring.

Detective position approved

The Mower County Sheriff’s Department is about to receive some much-needed help.

The county board approved the sheriff’s request to hire a new detective Tuesday.

Sheriff Terese Amazi and County Attorney Kristen Nelsen urged commissioners to add another detective last year, stating the two current detectives are struggling to keep up with the high number of crimes.

“We’re just getting clobbered with serious crimes,” the sheriff said at a December meeting.

Originally, the commissioners expected the majority of the investigator’s work to focus on welfare fraud because the efforts could recoup much of the position’s cost. But that now appears unlikely: Many welfare fraud cases aren’t being investigated at Human Services, as the sheriff doesn’t have the bodies to address them.

Along with some welfare fraud cases, Amazi said, the detective will focus on child abuse investigations and other crimes.

The $80,000 detective position was included in the 2013 budget approved in December.

Reinartz named chairman

The new year brought new leadership to the county board.

Commissioners named 3rd District Commissioner Jerry Reinartz as chairman and 4th District Commissioner Tony Bennett as vice chairman Tuesday. Reinartz was the vice chair in 2012 when 5th District Commissioner Mike Ankeny was chairman.

The county board traditionally rotates chair duties.

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