County briefs: Roosevelt Bridge work would top $3 million

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It will cost about $3.6 million to complete a restoration of the Roosevelt Bridge, but county officials are not sure if they’ll agree to green light their share.

Public Works Director Mike Hanson discussed the project with the county board Tuesday and said it would cost about $3.6 million to renovate the historic bridge, which was built in 1934.

Of the $3.6 million, only about $800,000 would be local dollars. About $2.1 would come from federal dollars, and about $800,000 would be from state bonds.

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Though it may seem like a high amount, Hanson said the local cost of $800,000 would be on par with a regular bridge. The higher amounts come because of the historic nature of the bridge and restoration work.

With Chairman Tim Gabrielson and Vice Chairman Mike Ankeny both gone Tuesday, a three-person county board opted to table decisions until next week.

The county received an initial bid of more than $1 million for the first phase of the project, which would address the structure and undercarriage of the bridge.

The second phase, which would cost more than $2.4 million, would be address the superstructure of the bridge.

Catch up time offered to Human Services workers

Human Services employees could have their chance to catch up after the state shutdown.

On Tuesday, the county board approved a move to let Human Services employees placed on temporary leave during the state government shutdown to use compensatory time to make up work.

“Due to the state shutdown, there are some employers who are feeling very behind,” said Human Resources Director Jennifer Simpson.

The time will be used partially to keep caught up with changes at the state, many of which require an assessment to be completed by a certain date.

Human Services Director Julie Stevermer said there’d be restrictions to who can use the time.

Employee must request it, explain what work they’re doing, and how much time it will take.

“They really need to approach the supervisors; the supervisor needs to approve it,” Stevermer said.

Board stands pat on ‘Grannyflats’

The county board decided to stand pat when it comes to “Grannyflats,” but there are still options for residents looking to care for elderly and dependent loved ones.

Last week, the Planning Commission voted down an ordinance for Accessory Dwelling Units, which are meant to help elderly residents live independently outside nursing homes.

On Tuesday, the county board backed their decision, noting interested parties still have options.

“We have a way to do that through a variance,” Commissioner Ray Tucker said.

The Planning Commission decided variances are sufficient for now, according to commissioner Jerry Reinartz.

But, County Coordinator Craig Oscarson and County Attorney Kristen Nelsen noted a variances have limitations.

Variances are not a sure thing, as the applicants must meet a “practical difficulties” doctrine and pay $500 fee.

“Just because there’s a method doesn’t mean they’re always going to get it,” Oscarson said.

Reinartz argued the ordiance could actually be more restrictive, because it places specific restrictions on the size of the dwelling unit.

Reinartz said the Planning Commission could discuss the ordinance again if there’s a need.

Board approves winery zoning

An area winery is in the clear to open a restaurant.

Four Daughters Winery will be able to open a restaurant after the county board approved a change to the zoning ordinance Tuesday to allow family farm wineries to be classified as agricultural, which is in accordance with state statutes.

The Vogts, who are opening the winery, have also been working to correct some concerns about their septic system.