Around 15 members of the public attended the regular meeting for the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, April 2. During the citizen input portion of the agenda, they were allowed to speak on the upcoming decision the county has on whether to roll the Rein Quarry into the general Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being done on four other mines operated by Minnesota Sands, LLC. The Rein Quarry is owned by the Rein family and operated by Reilly Construction.

Commissioner Chairman Randy Dahl asked the speakers to keep comments "germane to the subject" and to the point, since the meeting was not a public hearing.

Lanesboro resident and business owner Catherine Glynn spoke for herself and on behalf of another Lanesboro resident. "We applaud your efforts. This is not an easy topic," she said toward the commissioners.

She explained that she wanted to see a more extensive scrutiny of the Rein mine through the EIS process. If it didn't receive the same treatment as the Minnesota Sands mines, Glynn said the county would be stepping away from what they stand for in regards to sand mining.

"Fighting against sand mining has become part of my life. I love this place and this land," Glynn concluded.

Another Lanesboro resident, Bill Swanson, also commended the Sand Committee and the Board of Commissioners for their protection of Fillmore County through the tough ordinances for sand regulation.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people in the county don't have anything to do with sand mining, but we have to live with it," he pointed out. "We're waffling about what we should require out of them."

He added that he agreed with the recent Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's recommendation that the Rein mine be included in the general EIS along with the four other mines.

Lanesboro citizen Emily Spende, who also represented the Eagle Bluff Campground, agreed with what Swanson said.

Canton resident Loni Kemp shared that many questions remain on the effects of silica sand mining, but that even more remain on relative actions. She explained that the Reins own another 30 acres that could be mined and there is another 110 acres owned by others, which is adjacent to the Rein's plots.

"The future plans to expand weren't addressed," she pointed out.

Kemp said since this kind of mining is driven by international forces, there should be knowledge of the interconnection between current mines and future mines in order to know what is happening and what could happen.

She concluded by saying the EIS could be done more effectively and efficiently through the Environmental Quality Board (EQB). "I can't see how we could get better results than the state agencies," she said.

Vern Crowson from Pilot Mound Township said the Sand Committee took on a very large job and he expressed his appreciation for their work. "I feel any further study is hugely important. Once mining starts, we have no idea how big it will get. We should have the work done up front," he said in support of the Rein EIS.

Lanesboro resident Eliza Mitchell focused her comments on the traffic problems that would occur from poor roads and more trucks. She also commented on wondering why the Reins haven't expressed their wanting to be included in the EIS.

Speaking on the public health risks involved with silica sand particulates, David Webb of Lanesboro said recent health studies have shown, at sand mine fence lines, that the Environmental Protection Agency's standard for particulate matter is exceeded in almost every place. "I argue that an EIS is necessary to monitor if we are being exposed to that amount of particulate matter."

Commissioner Duane Bakke said the board would decide at its regular board meeting on April 23. "We could not make a decision today. We don't have enough material yet," shared Bakke.


County surveyor Jeff Brand asked the board to consider a resolution to approve a right of way plat of County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 5 from south of Wykoff towards Cherry Grove.

Bakke raised a question about if the new right of way would be observed by the farmers who have fields along it. Dahl suggested the county put stakes with flags along the right of way to prevent farmers from planting there. Bakke said they should show the landowners where the right of way is.

The right of way changed after the road was reconstructed and widened over the past few years.

Plats will soon be able to be accessed on the county's website. Recorder David Kiehne received approval for a web-based city plat search upgrade that will cost $1,950.

Kiehne said the plats will be free to access on the website and will be in a .pdf format. The project to get all the plats online will be done by late summer, according to Kiehne's estimate.

Take Back Initiative

The Drug Enforcement Administration will again support the National Take Back Initiative - a prescription drug collection day to be held on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at five sites in the county.

The Spring Valley Fire Hall, Chatfield City Hall, Fillmore County Sheriff's Office, Rushford Police Department and the Mabel City Hall will be open to collect unused, expired and unneeded drugs.

Sheriff Daryl Jenson said this provides a way for people to know the drugs will be properly disposed. "There are other methods of disposal, but this is the best solution," he shared.

Commissioner Thomas Kaase asked if illicit drugs could be turned in with no questions asked. Jensen said yes, that would be the case, but that the majority of drug problems in the county seem to come from prescription drugs.

He expressed his appreciation of the support from the police department in handling this event.

Veteran's cemetery

A conditional use permit for the proposed Southeastern Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery was approved by the board upon recommendation by zoning administrator Chris Graves. He mentioned that the consulting firm, Stantec Consulting, has been letting the county know the steps that still need to be taken in preparation for the state to take over the property.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud asked about the work that needs to be done on the highway right of way and the access points. He asked if the county could be working on that to help speed up the process before turning over the parcel to the state. "They may be putting out requests for construction bids this summer and we need to make sure the boundary is correct," he said.

It was also noted that the cemetery has not yet been officially approved by the federal government.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners handled the following items.

• A conditional use permit was approved for Andy and Esther Gingerich to build an Amish schoolhouse on their property in Amherst Township.

• The board approved a resolution encouraging the Minnesota Legislature to pass and for Gov. Mark Dayton to sign a bill that would appropriate enough funding for Minnesota's transportation system. The resolution states, "Minnesota counties have had to rely increasingly on the property tax to maintain roads and bridges" and that decreased funding has hurt maintenance and expansion projects.

• A board proclamation was issued declaring April as National County Government Month. Coordinator Karen Brown encouraged county officials, employees, schools and residents to learn more about their county government and how it works to serve the people of the county.

• The board approved the disbursement of surplus copy machine supplies to interested non-profit organizations on a first-come, first- serve basis.

• The next commissioners meeting will be April 9.