Board OKs sandbag purchase

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners unanimously approved buying two pallets of low-bid (empty) sandbags with the option of buying more if needed for spring flooding Tuesday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts Brown County as having a greater than 50 percent change of major flooding on the Minnesota and Cottonwood River this spring. Brown County Emergency Management requested buying a pallet (14,000) sandbags to be made available to county residents as needed.

Quotes were $2,800 (delivery included) from Berg Bag; $2,660 North Star Packaging (delivery included) and $5,460 (without delivery) from U-Line.

“I think we need more (than 14k) bags. This flooding could be pretty significant,” said Commissioner Dave Borchert. Commissioner Scott Windschitl said he agreed.

“Whoever needs sand can call contractors for a load or two,” said Brown County Emergency Management Director Laine Sletta.

Borchert said if flooding gets really bad, several hundred thousand sand bags may be needed.

“The Cottonwood went up six feet in 12 hours earlier,” Borchert said.

Commissioners unanimously approved:

• A partial abandonment petition submitted for the County Ditch 30 watershed, motion by Commission Dean Simonsen, seconded by Commissioner Tony Berg. A public hearing was set for 11 a.m., Tuesday, April 2. Affected areas include watersheds for County Ditch 30 and 48 in Sections 2, 3, 10 and 11 of Leavenworth Township.

• A redetermination of benefits for County Ditches 4 and 10.

• A Brown County Public Health update including a Dec. 12 advisory committee meeting that mentioned funding is sought to bring Christian speaker Bob Lenz back to New Ulm schools later this year.

Lenz, who talks to about 500,000 teens and adults in North America each year, promotes the dignity of life, caring for other people and suicide prevention. Grace Community Church Pastor Phil Schenk asked for ideas on who many help with local funding.

• A Region 5 Homeland Security and Emergency Management Association Mutual Aid Agreement, motion by Berg, seconded by Simonsen. The agreement makes available Homeland Security equipment and personnel in case of emergencies. An existing agreement would be renewed to include two tribal nations that joined the region since the last agreement was signed.

• A public hearing for CD 30 and 48 to adjust benefits resulting from the Schwartz petition to outlet 259.21 acres of land in the CD 30 watershed to an open ditch on CD 48, motion by Windschitl, seconded by Simonsen. No public testimony was heard.

Tiled-in cares will only use 870 feet of open ditch and none of the county tile. There is no landowner assessment resulting from this action.

• Purchasing Trimble R10 replacement surveying equipment from Frontier Precision, Inc. for $49,592.24 for the highway department, motion by Berg, seconded by Windschitl.

• Increasing a part-time license bureau technician position to full time and posting a vacancy, motion by Windschitl, seconded by Berg. The office will be more in line with comparable offices and gain service consistency with three full-time and part-time staff. The change will cost $22,975.62 a year including single-insurance and other benefits.

• Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz’s update including 2019 County Health Rankings that ranked Brown County second among 87 Minnesota counties in clinical care and ninth in health factors.

Moritz said flu vaccine percentages are down slightly but people should remember vaccines help vulnerable people from getting the flu.

Visit the interactive county health ranking website at

Fritz Busch can be emailed at