MARSHALL - A joint informational meeting for Lyon County, city and township officials covered a lot of ground Thursday evening, and prompted questions and feedback on topics ranging from local elections to economic development and law enforcement. Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said the purpose of the meeting was to keep Lyon County cities and townships updated on subjects that would affect them.
The meeting drew a good-sized crowd of county residents and officials, filling the commissioners' rooms at the Lyon County Government Center.
At the meeting, Lyon County Sheriff Mark Mather voiced his support for city police departments in Lyon County.
"That is something I recommend you keep," he said. "We need the collaboration from our cities."
Mather's recommendation came not long after Lyon County commissioners had given their approval for the sheriff's department to enter into a temporary law enforcement contract with the city of Balaton. Mather said the sheriff's department also contracts with the cities of Ghent, Russell and Cottonwood, but the added support of municipal police was valuable for law enforcement efforts.
The cities of Marshall, Minneota and Tracy have their own municipal police. This spring, the Minneota City Council voted to reduce its police department by one full-time officer's position.
Mather said the responsibilities of county law enforcement have expanded throughout the years. The new county jail now has an average population of 40 to 65 inmates, which includes Murray County prisoners boarded in Lyon County. He said the department is also responsible for court-ordered mental health transports and assists with security in the Lyon County Courthouse. The portion of the sheriff's department budget for patrol deputies is comparatively small, he said, and support from municipal police is often important.
Lyon County Planning and Zoning Administrator John Biren told area officials about planned collaboration between the county planning and zoning department and the Lyon County Soil and Water Conservation District. The SWCD is its own local unit of government, Biren said, which was established by public petition about 60 years ago. The district's priorities include preventing erosion, water conservation and quality, energy conservation and habitat preservation.
The Lyon County SWCD is currently without staff, following the retirement of administrator Rose Anderson, Biren said. But plans are in the works for Planning and Zoning staff to collaborate with the SWCD and share office space at the Market Street Mall. Planning and Zoning's responsibilities, which include ditch systems, shoreline management and land use regulations, align well with soil and water conservation, he said.
Biren said the county has set a committee to write a draft agreement for collaboration between the two groups. The committee hoped to finalize the agreement within the next couple of weeks, he said.