By Randy Neumann, Todd County commissioner
Well, with a saddened heart, I’ll share that my 95-year-old father-in-law quietly passed away on Aug. 22. I am so grateful that I got to sit down two weeks prior and ask questions about his life. He’s from the generation they call the Greatest Generation. They lived through the Great Depression and got by with very little. He traveled by train for Air Force basic training and by train to everywhere else he had to go. He spent two weeks on a ship to Africa, then on a plane to northern Italy where he was stationed with the B17 flight crew. His plane had a name, Swoose, part swan and part goose. He flew in 36 missions, but got grounded because he was the only one that could fix the cameras. His plane was shot down and his replacement, who was his good friend, was killed. This was something that Bud never forgot. Every day we lose hundreds of those men and women that served our country during World War II. So if you know someone who served in WWII and they are willing to have a conversation, please ask them to share their story.
So what has been happening since my last column? I attended the Aug. 23 Lake Osakis Association information meeting regarding the Osakis Lake Project. This is where the Osakis Lake Association would use the Sauk River Watershed to tax all lakeshore property owners to help pay for a survey and treatment of the curly-leaf pondweed. I believe also that the watershed would get paid an administrative fee to oversee collection of this tax. What we have been seeing in Todd County is that most grants are drying up and aquatic invasive species money is tight because we have multiple lake associations looking for the same funding.
As I was sitting at the meeting, I was wondering when the president of the lake association, who is also a Sauk River Watershed manager, was going to inform the very large crowd that was in attendance about the assessment coming on the Judicial Ditch 2 sediment ponds, which was $650,000 for clean out, with pay back over the next 10 years. I believe we as taxpayers still owed money from the last clean out. Why not tell people the truth; it would blow the 15-year assessment for the pond weed out of the water. So city of Osakis taxpayers and all lakeshore and first-tier taxpayers all got letters dated Sept. 5. They, the watershed managers — four from Stearns County, two from Todd County, one from Douglas County, one from Pope County and one from Meeker County — passed the $650,000 to pay for the removal of sediment last winter in the ponds.
Remember the original cost for sediment ponds was $850,000. I have been getting many calls on this from some very unhappy taxpayers. I told them to please attend the Oct. 15 meeting of the Sauk River Watershed at 6 p.m. at 524 4th St. S, across from the City Hall in Sauk Centre.
I heard today that a couple hundred people are going down to the meeting. There is one manager from Stearns County, who does not like me letting you, the public, know what is going on with the Sauk River Watershed. I was surprised by the number of callers who do not get the Osakis Review.
In Todd County news:
The County Board passed the 2020 Levy Option B, which I stated in my last article, a 1.93% levy increase, which equals a 3.68% tax rate decrease.
Facilities are working on getting bids for the Expo building at the fairgrounds.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation will be having an open house on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Osakis Community Center from 5 to 7 p.m. I am being told Highway 27 is currently programed for 2022. The project includes full depth reclamation of the roads surface, culvert replacement and shoulder widening. Four Bridges will also be replaced over waterways and the Lake Wobegon Trail bridge over Highway 27.
I also want to share that Todd County has had some lawsuits pertaining to the sheriff’s department; two of these have been made public and the third has not. As county commissioners, we only have control over the sheriff’s budget. He is an elected official. We as commissioners are very informed on what is going on and told by legal counsel not to comment on any of these issues until they are settled and we’re told what we can say.
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Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.