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Douglas County Board Meeting January 16 2024

Posted: 01/18/2024

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments, Parks & Trails

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At its January 16 meeting, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners heard from a group of citizens concerned about an ATV trail in their area and they passed a resolution urging state legislators and the Governor to retain the existing state seal and flag.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to urge the legislature and the Governor to reject the work of the commission charged with the redesign of the state flag and seal. The resolution says, “There is a substantial public cost associated with making this change that does not advance the public interest…” Commissioners also expressed concerns there was not an opportunity for adequate input into the process.

Residents from the southwest corner of the county attended the meeting to share their opinions on an ATV loop. The Kensington Loop follows 22.75 miles of county and township gravel roads and connects Holmes City, the city of Kensington, and Kensington Rune Stone Park. In mid-December the DNR issued a news release for public comments on grant-in-aid funding for the trail. Rod Borden spoke first saying many residents didn’t know about this official trail until they saw news coverage asking for public input to the DNR on that grant funding. Borden, who lives by the trail, said many riders exceed the posted speed limit, creating dust, and causing other damage. He told commissioners he’s spoken to some 80 residents, most of whom have signed a petition opposing the funding. He and another resident, who did not provide his name, said many landowners along the trail were not given an opportunity for any input during the creation process of the loop. Earl Anderson also spoke and said the Runestone Off-Road ATV Riders (ROAR) club works hard to train riders and it plans to maintain the trail along with Douglas County if the grant funding is provided by the DNR. Information was also shared on the public process to create the trail and efforts to determine how many complaints have been made about disruptive riders. Chair Keith Englund thanked them all for their attendance. The agenda item was considered informational only and no action was taken.

Commissioners made some changes to the fees charged for renting park shelters in Douglas County. The fees increased for all shelters except those at Spruce Hill Park, the Rune Stone Park Yard and Discovery Site which will stay at $25, and the Lake Brophy Visitor Center which will stay at $250.  The Rune Stone Visitor Center will now be $200, instead of $150. There will be a new playground shelter at Lake Brophy Park which will rent for $50. There will also be an opportunity to reserve Vesper’s Point at Pilgrim Point for weddings. That cost will be $250. Run, Walk, Bike Events at Brophy will be charged $500. Overnight campsites at Chippewa Park will be $35 for sites with electric and $25 for sites without. 

Two commissioners voted against approving aerial spraying for tent caterpillars. West Central Ag-Air Inc. is required to request permission to fly between May 15 and June 15. The flying is only done if requested by area residents who want to eliminate tent caterpillars. Commissioner Shane Schmidt asked if the board is informed where spraying occurs. He learned the board does not receive that information. Commissioner Jerry Rapp wanted it stated publicly that he opposes the spraying because he says it kills butterflies. The remaining three commissioners voted yes so approval was granted. 

Commissioners approved hiring a number of temporary and seasonal workers. The county will hire up to 14 watercraft inspectors, 3 parks maintenance workers, an engineering technician intern, an office assistant for the Auditor/Treasurer’s office in May and October, and election assistants. Those positions will be posted on the Douglas County website


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