Wilmington Township annual meeting in progress at the Town Hall. PHOTO: JAN LEE BUXENGARD/SPRING GROVE HERALD
Wilmington Township annual meeting in progress at the Town Hall. PHOTO: JAN LEE BUXENGARD/SPRING GROVE HERALD

By Marlene Deschler

Spring Grove Herald

Spring Grove Township held its annual board meeting on Tuesday, March 11, as part of the statewide township day. The polls closed at 8 p.m. and the meeting was called to order at 8:10 p.m.

The board reported that six votes had been cast. Mike Patterson was reelected to a three-year supervisor term and Mike Wiste was reelected to a two-year term as clerk/treasurer. Other board members present at the meeting included Supervisor Richard Gulbranson and Supervisor Chairman Bruce Johnson.

The minutes from last year's meeting were accepted and passed as well as the treasurer's report. Time was spent reviewing the income and expenses of 2013. The township's year-end balance in its bank account was $148,105.

The township's income for 2013 was $192,703.85. The expenses were $236,808.93 making the overall total -$44,105.08.

"We had $64,565 in flood repair expenses," pointed out Wiste. "We have been reimbursed for this, but unfortunately that money didn't come in until January of this year so was not able to go on the books for 2013. If it had arrived in 2013, we would have ended the year in the positive instead of in the negative."

Due to a snowier winter, snowplowing expenses were also up compared to the previous year and they expect 2014 to be higher yet.

Wiste also pointed out that the expense for crushed rock was higher in 2013, "It was a tough spring last year; the roads really got broken up. We also had to get extra rock to reinforce the roads due to the detour of Highway 44 while it was under construction."

For 2014, a box culvert on Rood Road will need repair. The board thought that they would get FEMA money to fix that. Another culvert (formally called a bridge) would also need repair either this year or next year depending on the schedule. The gopher bounty remained the same at $2 to stay consistent with neighboring townships.

One guest was in attendance at the meeting, Elden Pohlman, from the Houston County Fair board.

"We appreciate what the [Spring Grove Township] board has done for the fairgrounds in the past. We have recently done electrical upgrades and last year we also upgraded Floral Hall," said Pohlman. "4-H clubs have brought forth the concern of wheeling manure to the spreader and we want to find something to solve this problem. We haven't come to a conclusion yet, but we are working on it. We will also be needing cages in the chicken barn as the man that has run it in the past is not this year and he provided the cages. There are many projects on the fairgrounds as we work to make updates and improve the facility and keep it the best that it can be. The money that townships give to the fair stay on the grounds for projects, it does not go toward entertainment."

Gulbranson remarked, "I think you do an excellent job at the fair." Agreement on this statement came from the others in attendance as well.

A motion was made and passed to donate $1,000 to the Houston County Agricultural Society. Donations were also passed for $1,000 to the Houston County Historical Society and $500 to the Spring Grove Public Library.

The levies were set for the year and remain the same as they have for at least the past three years. The levies set were: General Levy $30,000; Road and Bridge Levy $129,000; Fire Levy $10,700; Ambulance Levy $2,945; and Solid Waste Levy $5,300 for an overall total of $177,954.

At the end of the meeting, Spring Grove Township resident Al Hagen, who was in attendance remarked, "Thanks for what you've done. You're doing a good job."


By Jan Lee Buxengard

Spring Grove Herald

Gary Buxengard was appointed moderator for the Wilmington Township annual meeting held at the Town Hall on March 11 and attended by 12 township residents.

Clerk/treasurer Julie Amundson presented the financial report for 2013. Total income for all funds amounted to $223,759.74; expenses were $354,610.76. Adding balances carried over from the previous year in the amount of $164,838.90, left the township with an end of the year balance of $33,987.88.

"We had a little financial difficulty this year because of the flooding," Amundson pointed out adding, "Damage piled up pretty fast."

Claim payments received to date from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) amount to $26,949.70, but there are claims totaling $303,124.27 that have been awarded, but payment has not yet been received through the state agency. Of that amount, $226,683.67 was for the Bangs Road, fixing from one end to the other, including a culvert replacement.

Approved by FEMA, but not yet completed is to clean out riprap from under a bridge on Duck Creek Road.

Wilmington Township has 38.3 miles of roads in Houston County and there are 36 named roads.

Road and bridge funding in the amount of $162,024 was generated from general property and gas taxes as well as state grants and aid. Total disbursements amounted to $299,852.83.

In 2013, among expenses from this fund were: $54,114 for road rock, $180,862.82 for blading, $6,428 for culverts, and $297 for seed.

So far this year road blading/snow plowing costs have amounted to $30,000 in January and $20,000 in February. "When we hook the FEMA funds, we will be able to pay for road maintenance," stated Board Chair Greg Myhre. "The township also owes for rock products and roadwork labor."

"I've heard a lot of good remarks about the road work this winter," Bee resident Mona Olson shared.

Road project completed

Last summer, the deficient bridge on South Prairie Road, which is on the Wilmington and Caledonia Township line, was replaced with two large concrete box culverts. Most of the cost was paid from the statewide Township Bridge Account, while the two townships shared the local costs equally in the amount of $2,871.68 for each.

Levy approved at same rate

With town board recommendation, the residents approved a 2015 levy in the amount of $210,000, the same as the previous three years.

The levied amount, which comes out of the taxpayer's pocket for 2014 taxes payable in 2015, includes: General Fund $29,000, Road and Bridge $154,200, Ambulance $3,300; Fire $17,000, and Solid Waste $6,500.

"Being we started off the year really well, and hopefully FEMA payments come through (in a timely manner)," Amundson stated about keeping the levy the same.

Resident Kenneth Anderson was in favor of the levy amount, but added that the board can call a special meeting in September if modifications must be taken before certification to the county auditor.

In other business

•The policy for dust-control chloride on township roads will remain the same. The township would pay the first $50 of the cost for chloride, whether the resident prefers purchasing the bagged flakes to apply themselves or having the county apply liquid chloride. Last year this policy cost the township $2,415.88.

•Bounty for pocket gophers will remain at $2 per pair of front feet. In 2013 the township paid out $2,364.

•Maintenance on the town hall has included removing the cupola and sealing the roof, replacing several ceiling tiles that were damaged/destroyed when squirrels and coon got into the building, fixing the furnace pipe, and general clean up.

Requests for donations to the Houston County Agricultural Society and Houston County Historical Society were approved at $500 to each. These donations will not be made until the township is caught up on its bills.

The 2015 annual meeting set

With not much change in attendance numbers whether the meeting is held in the evening or afternoon, township residents decided to keep the afternoon schedule for the March 10, 2015, annual meeting, with polls to open following the 2 p.m. meeting.

Longtime service recognized

Julie Amundson did not file for reelection this year. Those in attendance at the meeting gave her a round of applause and congratulatory words in appreciation of the total 26 years (with a two year break in between) that she served as treasurer and then clerk/treasurer. "I took over from Ernie Roble," she reported about coming on the board in 1986.

Election results

Of the 269 registered voters in the township, there were a total of 14 voters who cast ballots in the township election following the meeting. There were no absentee ballots.

Greg Myhre was reelected to a three-year term as supervisor. He received 13 votes, and Tom Gerard received a write-in vote. Melissa (Pierce) Schroeder was unanimously elected clerk/treasurer, a two-year term. Julie Amundson will serve as deputy clerk/treasurer until all FEMA work is cleared up and to help Melissa get started. Other board members are Ken Privet and Wesley Lapham.


By Craig Moorhead

Spring Grove Herald

With two township positions up for a vote, but both candidates running unopposed, voter turnout was light in Black Hammer last week.

Only seven votes were totaled, with all going to reelected Supervisor James Solum and Town Clerk Elizabeth Wiste. Solum's new term runs for three years, while Wiste's lasts two.

The township annual meeting followed. Resident Dan Alstad was "volunteered" to serve as moderator.

Treasurer David Skauge reported that extensive flood damage to township roads and bridges last June resulted in a $184,511 deficit, but after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Minnesota reimburse the township for the disaster, those funds will be returned to local coffers. FEMA is paying 75 percent towards the cost of flood repairs, while the state has stepped up to pay the local match (25%). Four township bridges still require rip rap (rock) repairs.

"Because of the FEMA flood, we've added on to a lot of culverts," Solum said. He added that $279,000 in flood damages to township roads and bridges occurred last summer. So far, FEMA has paid approximately $89,000 towards repairs.

Total available assets when the fiscal year ended on 12/31/13 were $238,105.

During 2013, road and bridge spending totaled $287,673, while only $101,100 was budgeted. There was $15,000 budgeted for general expenditures, with $11,135 spent. The "fire" line item was $8,000, with $8,210 in spending. Ambulance budgeting was $2,100, with $1,854 in spending. Solid waste was budgeted at $3,800, while spending totaled $5,640.

The proposed budget for 2014 has the same amounts included for each line item as 2013, therefore supervisors voted to maintain the levy at $130,000 for a sixth-straight year.

After working with FEMA personnel, Solum said the township needs to adopt an hourly rate for hired labor. Supervisors voted to formally set that at $15 per hour.

Eitzen State Bank was named as the official depository for township funds.

The Spring Grove Herald will be used to post official notices.

The township will continue to split the cost of chloride applications with residents, 50/50.

The Houston County Ag Society (aka Houston County Fair Board) will receive a $1,000 donation from the township, while the Houston County Historic Society will receive $500.

The annual base pay for the treasurer was increased from $350 to $500. The town clerk's pay was also increased, from $1000 to $1200. Both positions also qualify for a $50 per meeting per diem.

By consensus, participants also decided to have the wooden handicapped-accessible ramp at the town hall replaced with concrete, and add new railings.

Pocket gopher bounties will remain at $2. There were 427 bounties recorded last year.

Next year's annual meeting was set for March 10, at 8:15 p.m. Voting will proceed from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.