Fall seemed to fly by quickly and we’re heading toward winter. Oct. 14 was National Farmers’ Day. How appropriate as the Fall harvest was in full swing. Thank you to all the farmers who produce our food and provide for our communities.
There were several quarterly, bi-annual meetings I attended within the past months: Stearns County fire chiefs, Stearns County cities, and Stearns County townships. They are great opportunities to hear from our local government partners, and for me to be accessible to the public. I value local government leaders and want to work with them in any way I can.
I also attended the District 5 Association of Counties Regional meeting. There we set the legislative agenda for 2024, and we learn from our county neighbors on what is going on in our region.
I also was able to assist in planning, and attend our 45th Class Reunion in Melrose. What a great time to reconnect with everyone.
There was an important rail disaster exercise Nov. 1 in Kimball with area emergency departments which was supported by a federal/state grant for these purposes. It’s one of the many ways to once again cooperate with everyone who tries to protect us from any type of disaster. Thank you to the many men and women who work in these areas to serve our communities.
We are finalizing our proposed levy for 2024. Right now, we are at a 2.49% adjustment which is the lowest I have seen. We need to continue to review spending and taxation, and continue to deliver services the most efficiently that we can. A budget of more than $190 million with 900 employees in a county as large as Stearns needs constant oversight by the Board, and the public.
Thanks to KASM radio that allows County Board members to participate on their Party Line each month. We cover a wide range of topics, and answer any questions the public may have. A lot of people tell me they tune in, which is great. It’s another way for me, and the public, to stay connected with issues of the day.
Applications for solar sites are increasing once again. I continue to request the Board to reconsider their action last year to have applications of 1 megawatt sites to simply be processed and approved by staff, without any notice to townships or the public. That was a 3-2 decision, and it warrants reconsideration. Townships and the public have shared with me they want to receive notice and be allowed input at the Planning Commission and County Board level. That is currently not allowed right now. It’s noteworthy that Zion Township and Lake Henry Township have enacted moratoriums to better discuss this major issue. We as a Board need to be sensitive to this concern.
Let’s give special recognition to all our veterans this month. It’s an extra special way to say “thank you” for all the sacrifices that were made to protect our freedom. Stearns County will participate with counties from across America in Operation Green Light which will light up some county buildings with green lights to bring more attention to this special day of recognition.
My family and I want to wish you a special Happy Thanksgiving. We all have many things to be thankful for. Please know that for me, the honor of serving you as your County Commissioner is one of them. God bless you this Thanksgiving, and always.