County OKs ditch benefits

NEW ULM — Brown County Commissioners unanimously approved redetermination of benefits for County Ditches 71, 11 and 68, Jan. 16.

The resolutions followed several hours of testimony and discussion on a variety of related topics by affected landowners in Cottonwood, Sigel, Lake Hanska and Stark Townships. The resolutions included two corrections in CD 68. A CD 11 resolution included consolidation of Improvement 11, Laterals A and B.

A farmer asked about planting alfalfa in a buffer zone. Commissioner Dean Simonsen said it would be allowed until it expired.

Commissioner Dennis Potter said the law requires perennial buffer strip seeding. The resolution called for a mix of 25 percent Smooth Brome Grass, Orchard Grass, Timothy and Perennial Rye Grass.

CD 11 has 39.63 acres of grass strip right-of-way easement to be paid at $6,595 per acre and 1.42 acres being paid at 10 percent ($937) for a total grass strip payment of $262,297.

“An easement is an impediment. It’s a cosmetic thing,” said Sylvan Goblirsch.

Rob Goblirsch said he paid for a CD 33 clean-out last year, calling the situation “a disaster.”

Last September, commissioners heard differing opinions on how to repair CD 33. Rickert Excavating of Glencoe submitted a $40,750.97 low bid that was approved to clean out the ditch affecting about 5,000 acres of farmland. Several farmers opposed the clean-out, citing other costs they faced like buffer strips.

Commissioner Scott Windschitl said the board is here to help solve ditch system problems. “We’d be better off on a service schedule rather than an emergency schedule, responding to landowners who ask for clean-outs when they have emergencies,” Windschitl said.

CD 71 has 12.14 acres of grass strip right-of-way assessment to be paid at $6,605 per acre for a total grass strip payment of $80,185. Construction right-of-way damages are paid at $330 an acre and total $14,959. Total damages paid to landowners are $95,144.

Landowners have 60 days to pay assessments with no interest. Payment options include deferring payment to 2019 or amortizing assessments for 3 years at 4 percent interest.

CD 68 has 43.19 acres of grass strip right-of-way easement to be paid at $7,006.99 per acre. The total grass strip payment is $302,502. Construction right-of-way damage is $50,870. Total damage paid to landowners is $353,502.

David Forstner said 14.65 acres of land in the watershed is tiled out.

Rollie Forstner said he got just two months notice of the hearing from a letter mailed to him on Nov. 20. He said other landowners got six months notice of the hearing.

“I’m being rushed. I’m a full-time caregiver,” Forstner said.

Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson said commissioners could table the hearing but they decided against it, since that would mean added costs to landowners.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• Two petitions to outlet including a Schwartz petition to outlet into CD 48 at 10:30 a.m., Feb. 6 and the Englin/Zwaschka petition to outlet into CD 28 at 11:15 a.m., Feb. 6. Viewers and the engineer, who have already met with landowners in the systems to discuss the petitions, will be at the meetings.

• Authorizing the Auditor-Treasurer to bill CD 63 landowners $341,000 to cover the purchase of a 16 feet, five-inch buffer strip and 100 foot construction easement that was approved at the ROB on April 28.

• Setting a Feb. 21 letting date for surface rehabilitation projects on CSAH 6 from Watonwan CSAH 27 to 1/4 mile east of Brown County CSAH 13; CSAH 11 between CSAH 20 and 22; CSAH 13 from CSAH 6 to 20; and CSAH 20 from CSAH 10 to 13.

• Approving a vendor to install a courthouse door and video security system. Eagan Companies of Brooklyn Park quoted $38,626 for a camera/video system and $45,217 for door security, with a three-year warranty on cameras and door hardware, as recommended by Information Technology Director Rich Meyer.

• Set minimum annual salaries for elected county officials in 2019. Minimum salaries are $54,873 for the County Auditor/Treasurer and Recorder, $65,187 for the County Sheriff and $70,730 for the County Attorney.

• By a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Dean Simonsen and Tony Berg dissenting, tabled a resolution to designate the county attorney position as full time.

• Accepted and order filed information about tiling review and tiling outlets by Dennis Youngerberg on land south of Springfield and west of County Road 5.

“I paid $1,650 to clean out a man-made ditch to Mound Creek and my replant cost me more than that this year,” Youngerberg said. “There is so much water backed up, the ditch is so full of crap, I don’t know if we’ll use the township road. I talked to many organizations about it including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Nobody does anything about it.”

Youngerberg said he was concerned about where the water in a slough he was talking about, would go.

“If it goes to a public waterway, I can handle it. But not if it goes to a private waterway that isn’t designed to handle it,” Youngerberg said. “I don’t plant it. It’s too wet. When the DNR managed it, it literally killed the pheasant population.”

“We can gather more information,” Commissioner Dean Simonsen said. “I don’t know what the options are.”

Commissioner Windschitl said the problem is a slough is being used as an outlet.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at