Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


County Highway Engineer Seth Greenwood presented his annual report for the Nicollet County Highway Department. Even though we want to forget winter and all of the stuff that goes with it, it is of interest to note that for the calendar year of 2008, the county spent $468,001.89 on snow and ice removal.

Since the state of Minnesota, the legislature, and mostly the Governor want to see budget decreases in the future, this is one area that the county board could choose to decrease. Will our citizens be willing to accept no snow and ice removal on the weekends? end

Low Bids for 2009 Paving Projects

The Nicollet County Board of commissioners was pleased to accept a low bid of $2,638,576 to cover the cost of the 2009 paving projects. Seven projects are in the plans and the bid accepted was $1,056,954 under our county staff estimated cost. This is good news for the taxpayers. end

Property Values

Nicollet County Assessor, Doreen Pehrson and her staff are in the middle of the annual board of revue process. This an opportunity for land owners to appeal the value that has been placed on their property by the assessor's office. Ms Pehrson commented to the county board of commissioners this morning, "people think their property values are incorrect. They don't understand that we are using figures from the 2007 and 2008 sales to make our determinations." This is normal for the way assessments are done and there is no way for property values to reflect very recent trends. end

Sunday, April 19, 2009


In 2010 the country will be counting all citizens living here again. It happens every ten years. At the last Region 9 Meeting, Barb Ronnigen of the State Demographic Center addressed the group. She emphasized the importance of the 2010 census. She said that their goal is to have each city and county develop a “Complete Count Committee”. This committee is appointed by leaders of the units of government and is to work to encourage EVERYONE to fill out a census report. The questionnaire in 2010 will be the short form with only six questions.
Why is the census important?

Power – Minnesota could lose one congressional seat if our population decreases and other areas of the nation show an increase.

Money –even if just one person does not “get counted” the local governmental unit could lose $1,000 and that is just federal money.

Data- census data is used in a myriad of ways. This time, there will be just six questions, but these will play important roles in planning for schools, economic development, health care, cities, counties and states. end

Saturday, April 04, 2009


What is Vital Aging? I am not sure how to define it, but I know I want it. We all want to live in a vital or important way. The city of St. Peter seems to be a place that is liked by retired or older folks. Some of them come back to the city because they have good memories of attending school at Gustavus or Mankato State University. One family I know of wanted to be close to the airport – but not live in the metro area. Whatever the reason, the city seems to have many people who may fall into the category of older.

Recently leaders from the city of St. Peter gathered and talked about how to prepare and be a friendly community to a group of vitally aging population. What do we look like? In Minnesota, by the year 2020 there will be more people over the age of 65 than in elementary, middle and high schools put together. There will be more people over the age of 65 than young adults.

In addition to the baby boomer bump, people are living longer, life expectancy has doubled over the last 100 years, medical and technological advances have added to this trend. Information from the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging tells us that the “increase of older adults will mean more reliance on the service structure of public entities.” These services are funded mostly through public dollars from taxes. Examining a person with an average income of $35,000, he or she generates about $2,018 in taxes annually. (This is what runs our schools, cities, townships and counties.) When he/she retires, this drops to $559 or 72% cut in revenue.
When workers need to leave their jobs to care for an aging parent, we suffer economic loss. Lost productivity due to the burdens of caring for an older parent is estimated at $11.4 billion annual in the United States.

It is an eye opening fact that since the beginning of time, we have not had a situation where large segments of the population live to such advanced years. Aging –this is not a natural phenomenon. It has never happened before – so we have no model to follow in how to deal with it. In 1988- 97% of the care giving was done by family, in 2005 –2%. A 1% decline in family care giving means a 30 million dollar cost to the tax payers.A snapshot picture of Nicollet County shows the population at 31,313 and the city of St. Peter at 10,864. 2006 data indicates 4,926 people or 17.5% are 60 plus; 1,775 or 5.7% are 75 plus; 567 or 1.8% are 85 plus. This is 2006 data. Also, the poverty level for 65 plus shows there are 239 people below the poverty level. The median family income is $40,443. The civic leaders will continue to talk about and come up with some recommendations regarding Aging Vitally in St. Peter. end