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Renville County board to appoint new engineer

OLIVIA — The Renville County Board of Commissioners took a step Tuesday toward appointing a new public works director/highway engineer.

At the meeting Tuesday, commissioners also approved a newly revised health ordinance, and continued discussions on the need to bring the county parks into compliance with state health codes for camping.

The commissioners informally indicated that they would offer the public works/highway engineer position to Jeffrey Marlowe. The commissioners said they would offer a one-year probationary contract, pending a final reference check.

Marlowe has served with the Renville County public works department since 2002, and as its assistant county engineer since 2009. He holds a computer-aided drafting and design degree from St. Cloud Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The commissioners conducted a second round of interviews with finalists Marlowe and Chad Gramentz before making their decision on Tuesday. Gramentz is serving as public works director and county engineer with Kanabec County.

The new director will succeed Marlin Larson, who recently retired from the public works position. Larson had served the county for 12 years.

In other action, the commissioners approved a revised environmental health ordinance. The county and Kandiyohi County merged their health boards at the start of the year. The county should realize administrative efficiencies as a result, according to Jill Bruns, public health director for Renville County.

The public health director also continued previous discussions with the commissioners about the need to bring campgrounds in the county parks into compliance with health regulations.

According to state law, all camping facilities with sites for five or more units need to provide potable water and meet standards for waste disposal and separation between units.

Lake Allie is currently in compliance, but campgrounds in the Beaver Falls, Skalbekken, Vicksburg and Birch Coulee parks do not offer potable water. They also are not compliant with various sewer and toilet, garbage, fire ring, and spacing requirements.

The county parks board will be discussing a long-range plan to bring the parks into compliance at its November meeting. The parks are seeing increased usage and the county has been working with the Minnesota Conservation Corps to improve the parks and camping opportunities in them. The program run through the state provides work for young people in natural resources and conservation projects.

In other business, Commissioner John Stahl agreed to represent the board on a committee that will be looking at ways to reduce traffic fatalities in the county. Sheriff Scott Hable and Bruns are organizing the committee in hopes of identifying what additional work can be done to reduce fatal accidents.

The county has ranked in the top 10 in the state in recent years in terms of the number of fatalities per population.

Renville County recorded 19 highway fatalities in the years 2008 to 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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