Tucker returns to county board

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ray Tucker returned to duty on the Mower County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

Tucker, the second-most senior county commissioner next to David Hillier, collapsed at his Dexter home this winter with a brain aneurysm.

He underwent emergency brain surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. A week ago he was released from the hospital and allowed to come home to recover.

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On Tuesday morning, the 2nd District county commissioner joined three colleagues at the county board meeting.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Tucker said. “Better than I have in a long time.”

Tucker’s return to the county board was announced by Hillier, 3rd District county commissioner and temporary chairman of the county board. “We’ve already heard a couple of one-liners from Ray,” Hillier said, noting the commissioner’s well-known sense of humor.

Still missing from county board duty is Dave Tollefson, 5th District, who underwent surgery in mid-March and is recovering at home.

Tollefson, the 2009 chairman of the county board, handed over the chairman’s duties to Hillier during his departure because of medical reasons.

Tucker will resume his duties on the county board’s finance and building committees.

The three blocks of downtown city property being cleared for the new Mower County Jail and Justice Center project may not have happened without Tucker’s input.

It was the 2nd District commissioner who negotiated a $1.5-million grant from the city of Austin to acquire the Robbins block, which is being cleared to make way for a geothermal well field to be used to heat/cool the new jail and justice center facilities across Second Avenue Northeast.

Tucker’s sister, Marilyn, drove him to Tuesday morning’s county board meeting. The pair share a home in Dexter.

Tucker said it will be some time before he is able to resume full responsibilities for his Tucker Tiling Company business.

“It definitely opens your eyes a little bit,” Tucker said of his harrowing ordeal this winter.

His return to county board duties was not expected for another four weeks, so Tuesday’s appearance was a good omen that his recovery is going well.

“I don’t believe I lost any function,” he said.

His sister, Marilyn Tucker, and now his personal care attendant, said her brother was “a tough character.”

In other action Tuesday morning, the county commissioners heard from Margene Gunderson, community health services director.

According to Gunderson, Mower County can now access a $10,000 grant to implement the county’s own Medical Reserve Corps.

The specialized local unit of a national network of volunteers brings together people who are dedicated to ensuring hometown security, according to Gunderson.

The MRC “helps to establish to establish teams of local volunteer medical and public health professionals who can contribute their skills and expertise throughout the year and during times of community need.”

According to Gunderson, potential volunteers can register by going online to www.MNResponds.org

Also Tuesday, Gunderson shared the 2008 Annual Program Activity Summary with the county commissioners.

Commissioner Hillier questioned Mike Hanson, county highway department engineer, about the work of a survey crew along Fourth Drive Southwest.

According to Hanson, the bridge will require state bonding bill monies. The plans and specifications for the replacement project are being prepared, according to Hanson.

The county engineer told the commissioners road weight restrictions could be lifted sooner than expected due to the mild weather.

However, Hanson said the restrictions are the responsibility of the Minnesota Department of Transportation and all weight restriction signs posted along roadways must be obeyed.

Tim Gabrielson, 1st District county commissioner, alerted Hanson to a possible traffic safety concern in his district.

According to Gabrielson, residents of Lansing have complained to the commissioner about a 40-miles per hour zone in the unincorporated village near the U.S. Post Office building. “It’s a safety issue,” Gabrielson said.

“I’ll take a look,” Hanson told the commissioner, adding both the speed limits and posting of signs is a responsibility of the MnDOT.