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Landfill offers alternative uses

A landfill worker moves trash Tuesday at the Kandiyohi County Sanitary Landfill. Kandiyohi County officials are discussing whether the landfill would make a good waste-to-energy site. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- With limited space at the county's sanitary landfill, and a need for alternative energy sources, Kandiyohi County is starting to explore a future marriage between the two.

In an update Tuesday to the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, County Administrator Larry Kleindl said several meetings have been conducted, and more will be, to explore using the landfill as a waste-to-energy site.

"We're in the very beginning stages," said Kleindl, who added that he never thought his job would include researching the technology of biofuels and biomass energy.

Potential partners in such a venture include the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative and Willmar Municipal Utilities.

The groups have met "to discuss the what-ifs" of a potential project that could reduce waste at the landfill and "turn it into an energy source," he said.

They've also taken a tour of a company in Blaine that has developed technology to separate garbage and heat organic items into compost.

Commissioner Richard Larson, the board representative on this issue, said the power cooperative may be hosting a tour to another waste-to-energy facility in Kansas.

Kleindl said future plans could include a multiphase project that would use existing methane and solid waste.

Recognizing the need for alternatives to landfills and simple incineration, companies are developing new methods, Kleindl said.

Although he's eager to explore the options, Kleindl said the county needs to be cautious about costs and environmental impact.

The reason for exploring such a venture is "quite obvious," he said. Within 20 years there may be no more space at the landfill, he said, and the county could be ill-prepared for handling garbage in the future if it does not act now.

"We know we won't be using that dump forever," said Commissioner Dennis Peterson.

Chairman Richard Falk said he was glad the county was "getting out in front" of the issue now.

"This is certainly a positive step," said Commissioner Harlan Madsen.

Several years ago a number of counties in southern Minnesota explored -- but ultimately abandoned -- a project to construct a waste-to-energy incinerator in Lamberton in Redwood County. Kandiyohi County pulled its support from that project because of the cost of transporting garbage.

On Tuesday, Peterson said it did not make sense for the county that generated the most garbage to ship its waste to Lamberton. It would have made more sense, he said, to have located that facility here.

Also Tuesday, the board reconvened as the board of appeals and equalization, which was adjourned Monday night while additional information was sought on two requests.

The commissioners unanimously agreed to lower by 5 percent the value of William and Ann Latham's home.

The Lathams said the large numbers of boats that congregate on Green Lake in front of their house on summer weekends has made it impossible for them to enjoy their home or to sell it.

Based on the assessor's information that the interior of the home likely had not been updated since it was built in 1964, the board agreed the value should be lowered.

On a 4-1 vote, the board voted to cut the property values in half -- to $25,000 -- of five lots at Heritage Springs of Games Lake. An unbuildable lake lot in the development was reduced from $48,300 to $16,000.

The board acknowledged the lots were not selling and agreed that the values were set too high.

Commissioner Dean Shuck said Colfax Township refuses to take ownership of the road through the development until 75 percent of the lots are sold. But he said potential buyers walk away once they know the road is private and they would be responsible for snow removal.

Larson cast the lone vote against the reduction.

In other action Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Commissioners:

- Bids were approved for the sale of $6.2 million in general obligation sewer revenue bonds to fund construction of a sanitary sewer collection system on Diamond Lake. Piper Jaffray & Co. provided the best interest rate of the five submitted bids with a rate of 3.689.

The commissioners also approved the sale of $4.2 million in general obligation sewer and water revenue refunding bonds for a project from 2001. UMB Bank of Kansas City was the low bidder with an interest rate of 2.913 percent. The refunding will result in net savings of $217,781 to the county.

- In response to a new state law, the commissioners established a four-member absentee ballot board that will accept, reject and tabulate absentee ballots cast in the county for state elections. In the past that process was conducted by election judges at individual precincts. The board, which must have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, includes Marvin Kray, Bruce Heymer, Ron Carlson and Dennis Stienessen.

- The commissioners agreed to give the owner of a dilapidated commercial building in Hawick 30 days to clean up the property or else the county would demolish and remove it. Certified letters sent to the owner, Robert Wojcik of Champlin, have been returned to the county. Taxes on the property have been delinquent for the last three years.


Carolyn Lange

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

(320) 894-9750