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Osakis Voices: The people behind Battle Point Park

Battle Point Park would not be what it is today without the people who see and have seen the value of it. Starting with the late Fifth District Commissioner, Bob George Sr., who in 1985 had a vision on Battle Point, but passed away before he could get the things he wanted to get done at the park.

I had a lot of conversations with my late uncle, Bob George Jr. on his dad's vision. Then, the past Todd County commissioners, Osakis Sportsmen's Club, Sauk River Watershed, Todd County Water and Soil, Todd County Public Works, DNR, local residents and the Todd County Parks and Trails Board have all had a part in Battle Point of today.

Here are the names of the Todd County Park and Trails members and where they are from in Todd County: 1st District — Gloria Nokes, Bartlett Township; 2nd District — vacant; 3rd District — Kevin Langer, Long Prairie; 4th District — Al Loken, Bruce Township; 5th District — Lee Christopherson, Gordon Township, Osakis; At-Large — David Determan, Kandota Township; Ron Richter, Long Prairie; and Tricia Jasmer, Staples, who are all are voting members.

The non-voting members are District 3 Commissioner Rod Erickson and myself, District 5 Commissioner. All these people work hard to oversee Battle Point Park, the Reynolds Canoe Landing and the 8 miles of Wobegon trail and spend the taxpayer's money wisely.

There were two liabilities that the commissioners and park board inherited from the past. One is putting away $1,000 per mile for the Wobegon Trail signed in 2002, which is $8,000 per year, and in 1985 complete maintenance of the boat access at Battle Point. The county board finally agreed with the park board to put $9,000 per year away for maintenance in 2015. Since 2008, the park board has spent $122,000 on Battle Point, Wobegon Trail and the canoe access, which is $12,200 per year. Lee Christopherson is your park board treasure since 2008, and can show you where every penny has been spent. Compare that to Douglas County that has a park budget that is roughly $600,000 per year.

A couple of issues the park board wanted me to address are 1. That Todd County Park Board/county are not providing free garbage service for the residents in the park area. The sign reads PARK GARBAGE ONLY. For a little over $20 a month, Long Prairie Sanitation, 888-878-5578, would be glad to pick up your garbage. 2. Regarding the bathrooms, we are doing the best with what we have. New ones are over $50,000, which we do not have. So help us by keeping them clean and picking up when you use them. Battle Point is an asset to all of Todd County and all residents and people have enjoyed its beauty for generations and hopefully generations to come.

So what has been happening in Todd County? Well, back in May our coordinator decided to head back to the metro area where he will be working for the city of Minneapolis. Before he left, he suggested that the board appoint our MIS director as interim coordinator, which we did for a 90-day period. The county board also hired a search firm, to hire a new coordinator. As of July 18, we had 11 applications. We are hoping to have someone hired by end of September.

Our facilities committee found a lot of black mold in our Expo building, located at the Todd County Fairgrounds. This building was built 40 years ago and its purpose was for 4-H and livestock showing for the fair. Then, two years after it was built, coolant coils were installed and cement was poured for the Long Prairie Hockey Association. The board has hired the engineering firm of Widseth Smith Nolting of Alexandria to help with engineering and bids to repair the facility. I have heard cost to rid the mold and repair the leaky roof could run from $50,000 to $2.5 million, we will look at all options and start talks with city of Long Prairie and the Long Prairie/Grey Eagle School. I will do a follow up in my next article regarding the Expo Building.

We have started our finance committee meetings and so far the county budget for 2019 is looking good. We will set the preliminary budget the end of September.

Remember to go out and vote at the Primary Election, Aug. 14.

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.