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County buys additional houses along Grove Street

The Pierce County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of 388 and 420 W. Grove St. in Ellsworth Tuesday. The two houses are south of the fairgrounds.Photo by Jason Schulte

The Pierce County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the Dodge properties along Grove Street in Ellsworth Tuesday during their reorganization meeting.

The board approved the request by a 16-1 vote after discussing the matter for 25 minutes in closed session. The lone dissent came from Supervisor Ben Plunkett, who stated the agreed purchase price, $360,000, goes above and beyond the future value of the properties.

The houses are at 388 W. Grove and 420 W. Grove St., which were previously owned by Doug and Lori Dodge. This is the latest of properties the county has purchased south of the fairgrounds in regard to possible future fairgrounds land acquisition. 344 W. Grove St. was purchased by the county in 2003 for $130,000 and the house was demolished. 364 W. Grove St. was purchased in 2008 for $190,000.

The future of the Dodge houses is unknown at this time, nor is there any time schedule.

New members

Tuesday was the first board meeting for new members LeRoy Peterson, Jon Aubart, Cullen Peterson, Rod Rommel and Tom Sitz. LeRoy Peterson represents District 2 (City of Prescott Ward 3, Town of Clifton Wards 1 and 2), Aubart represents District 3 (Town of River Falls, Ward 3, City of River Falls, Wards 3 and 5), Cullen Peterson represents District 6 (City of River Falls, Wards 9 and 10), Rommel represents District 7 (City of River Falls, Wards 6 and 7), and Sitz represents District 8 (Town of River Falls, Wards 1 and 2, Town of Martell, Ward 2).

Outgoing Board Members Jim Camery, Rich Purdy, Nikki Shonoiki, Ron Lockwood and John Kucinski were commended for their service to the board.

CTHs F and U

The board denied a request by a 15-2 margin to transfer $470,000 from an undesignated general fund to cover the county's remaining cost share for repairing bridges on CTHs F and U.

Supervisor Jeff Holst called the request "a bad move," especially after it failed at the finance and personnel committee. The motion was brought to the full county board by Plunkett, who felt the board should have another alternative in spending its money (Plunkett and Cullen Peterson voted in favor).

In a special meeting on April 13, the board voted 12-5 to proceed with borrowing $1.695 million and offer bonds for sale, with those funds going toward county-wide repairs, which include bridge repair on F and U. Joe Murray from Springsted, Inc., the board's bond counsel, advised the board again Tuesday a three-quarters majority vote will be needed when the issue is brought up again in May or it could significantly harm the county's ability to borrow money in the future (Plunkett was one of the five who dissented that night. The other four no longer serve on the board).

Tax collection

The board unanimously approved authorizing the treasurer's office to collect the first tax payment installment for municipalities desiring to contract with the county.

Treasurer Phyllis Beastrom explained this move was beneficial to the county for a couple of reasons: 1) it generates revenue; 2) improves the speed at which title companies, abstractors, banks and mortgage companies will have to access to current tax information and 3) alleviates taxpayer apprehension with mailing tax payments.

Some supervisors expressed hesitation before granting approval about whether or not the treasurer's office could handle the increased workload. Beastrom assured them they could, especially when she said the office has no problems collecting the second tax installment in July.

Other action

In other action, the board:

--Approved increasing the pre-inspection fees of new construction facilities by $45. Michelle Williams, Environmental Health Specialist, informed the board the request for the increase was so she could conduct a plan review required for new construction facilities only.

--Approved the land management department applying for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shoreland/wetland grant. The grant was created to help counties in bringing their shoreland zoning ordinances up to recently approved standards.

-- Set the next meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 25.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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