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County will use eminent domain for right of way for road project

WILLMAR -- Resolutions were approved Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Board to initiate the use of eminent domain to obtain right of way from several property owners who live along County Road 41, north of Willmar.

The county intends to regrade and resurface a 1.6-mile segment of the road, commonly called the Radio Station Road, as well as a short section of County Road 24 this summer.

Settlements were reached quickly with many of the northern-most landowners through negotiations, but there's been no agreement with seven property owners, including the Willmar Community Golf Club Inc.

Because the road includes "transitional land" that leads to Willmar, there is "a lot of speculation about what land is really worth," said Gary Danielson, county public works director.

Commissioner Richard Falk said there is no disagreement with property owners that the road repairs are necessary but there is disagreement on what price people should be given for permanent or temporary easements of land needed for the project.

Because of the "constraints of time" with the project, Danielson asked the commissioners to approve a resolution to move ahead with eminent domain proceedings, which allows a government entity to acquire property before court-appointed commissioners set a price.

Danielson said it's still possible agreements can be reached before that legal step is taken.

County Attorney Boyd Beccue said the process involves a "battle of experts between appraisers."

Also Tuesday, the commissioners heard the annual Veterans Service report from Trisha Appeldorn, veterans service officer. The report showed an increase in the number of veterans served.

In 2007 there were 958 veterans that received services from the county office. In 2008 there were 1,439.

Much of the daily operation involves filing disability claims, Appeldorn said. There were 162 claims filed in 2008.

Last year the State Soldiers Assistance Program provided $78,323 to county veterans. In 2007 the program generated $59,919 for local veterans.

"We're still going strong in our office," she said. "We're very busy."

Appeldorn said the county office received three grants with a total value of $67,000, which was the third highest in the state.

The county office received a $57,000 grant that will be used for improved transportation for veterans, including the purchase of a new van that arrives this week.

The commissioners praised Appeldorn for her work with veterans.

"All I ever hear is good reports," said Commissioner Dean Shuck.

"Nothing but compliments" is what Commissioner Dennis Peterson said he hears from veterans who have worked with Appeldorn.

County Attorney Boyd Beccue gave a personal testament. A veteran himself, Beccue said he needed Appeldorn's service recently and was impressed with the "quick response."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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