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Kandiyohi County Lakes Association seeks funding to prevent zebra mussels

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WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Lakes Association is hoping the County Board will find money somewhere to help prevent aquatic invasive species from taking hold in lakes.

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The association wants the county to hire deputies this summer to make sure boaters are not bringing in aquatic invasive species, like zebra mussels, to county lakes.

The association asked the County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to consider allocating $3,000 that could be used to hire off-duty sheriff's deputies to work at boat landings and enforce existing laws that prevent boats from transporting invasive species to lakes.

The state Department of Natural Resources is also being asked to hire law enforcement interns to help patrol boat accesses to prevent the spread of invasive species.

During a brief presentation Tuesday, Bonnie Nelson also asked the commissioners to consider a policy that would require boats being brought to county parks to undergo a visual check for potential violations. The park manager would also be required to find out from which lake the boat had come.

The commissioners said they would make a decision at the May 3 meeting after they had time to review the budget to determine if there were funds available for the project.

The Lakes Association has spent its own money on past efforts to educate the public about aquatic invasive species and is hoping county funds can be used to supplement their efforts.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Dennis Peterson said he testified last week at a legislative hearing in St. Paul in support of increased enforcement and penalties to prevent these problems -- like zebra mussels getting into lakes.

Peterson was the only county commissioner to testify at the hearing. Hearing that he represented all the county commissioners from all 87 counties got the legislators' attention, but he said some of the legislators still opposed some of the provisions in the bill, including the increased fines.

In other action Tuesday:

- The commissioners ratified a one-year contract with the Law Enforcement Labor Services -- the result of an agreement following a mediation session. The contract includes zero increase in cost-of-living pay or in steps -- advances typically based on seniority or continuing education; a slight increase in vacation time; and increased county contribution to health insurance premiums. The union includes deputies, dispatchers and correctional officers.

- A quote of $98,313 from Mid Central Contracting of Spicer was approved for the installation of sanitary sewer services to all 57 recreational vehicle sites at County Park 3 on Diamond Lake.

- A bid of $46,563 from Reiner Contracting Inc. of Hutchinson was approved for construction of a replacement bridge in Lake Elizabeth Township.

- The purchase of a new front-end loader for the sanitary landfill was approved. With the buy-back of the existing machine, the cost of the new loader is $189,600.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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