GRANITE?FALLS?- The Yellow Medicine County Board discussed security concerns raised by County Attorney Keith Helgeson at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
"The office was supposed to be temporary, five years ago," Helgeson said. "Now it's looking more and more permanent. There is only one exit, and recently the clientele has been more volatile. One party threatened to shoot everyone."
Helgeson said that in the past few years there have been cases where he had to come out and de-escalate situations with people unhappy about tickets, termination of parental rights cases and guardianship issues among others.
"We've talked about having a panic button, but the problem is they'd come down to a bunch of dead bodies," Helgeson said.
County Administrator Ryan Krosch said the problem boiled down to two issues: temporary options and long-term security planning.
In the discussion that followed, Commissioner Greg Renneke suggested a mirrored glass security barrier with a door buzzer.
Commissioner Louis Sherlin suggested cutting an exit door in the back of the building.
There was also some discussion of moving county departments around to move the county attorney's office, which is now located on the riverfront, into the county courthouse with law enforcement on hand, or building an annex to the courthouse.
Board Chairman Gary Johnson stood adamantly against spending down the county's $13 million reserve fund to build new quarters.
"We have to look at new options," Commissioner Ron Antony said. "At what point do we have enough reserves?"
At the end of the discussion Krosch said he would organize a meeting of the county Facility Planning Committee to discuss options.
The board voted unanimously to allow the sale of 160 acres of private land in Florida Township to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) program after being assured the annual Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) would more than equal the property taxes paid by the present owner.
Brad Bolduan, who works with the SNA program, told the Independent the DNR would be paying less than $200,000 for the land.
The land will first be allowed to go back to prairie conditions then burned over to control some of the invasive plant species before working out a long-term management program, according to Bolduan.
During commissioners' reports Johnson told the board that snow removal costs for this winter were nearly non-existent compared to last year.
According to Highway Department Maintenance Supervisor Larry Stoks, last winter from Nov. 19, 2010 to Feb. 24, 2011, the county spent an average of $5,000 per day, every day, on fuel, cutting edge replacement, and sand.
"That's not including time, labor, and equipment breakdown," Stoks said. "This year we've had a half-dozen hours of overtime and haven't replaced any cutting edges."