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Pope County News & Announcements

MnDOT ANNOUNCES JULY 8 START OF HIGHWAY 114 PROJECT BETWEEN LOWRY AND STARBUCK

MnDOT ANNOUNCES JULY 8 START OF HIGHWAY 114 PROJECT BETWEEN LOWRY AND STARBUCK

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has announced the start of a construction and resurfacing project on State Highway 114 in Pope County between Lowry and Starbuck.  Below is more information from MnDOT’s official page on this project:

Project details

Highway 114, from Lowry to Starbuck, is expected to be in poor condition by 2024, increasing the resource needs from maintenance. The sidewalk and pedestrian ramps in Lowry are currently noncompliant and will be replaced as part of this project.

The project will include placing new sidewalk and ramps on the west side of Highway 114 and between Cherry and Maple Street in Lowry.

Key project elements

Reconstruct and resurface Highway 114 from the Highway 55 intersection to County Road 28 in Lowry
Resurface Highway 114 from County Road 28 to Highway 28 in Starbuck
Replace storm sewer in Lowry and culvert replacements
Tree removals in Lowry due to powerline and sidewalk conflicts, or age and decay

Work and detour begin July 8

Starting Monday, July 8, weather permitting, Highway 114 will close between Highway 55 in Lowry and Highway 28 in Starbuck, and thru-traffic will be detoured to Highway 55 and Highway 28.

Initial work will first take place in the city of Lowry, south of Highway 55 to County Road 28, with crews removing pavement and beginning on underground utility replacements. Other work for this project includes culvert replacements between Lowry and Starbuck, and resurfacing the entire roadway from Highway 55 in Lowry to Highway 28 in Starbuck. The overall project is expected to be completed by October.

Local traffic navigation
Business and residential access will be maintained during construction. If you must use Highway 114 to access a cross street or your destination, be aware of restrictions in the areas where crews are working. For example, when crews replace culverts between Lowry to Starbuck, each culvert site will be closed for 1-3 days. During that work, you may need to enter from the south instead of the north, or vice versa.

Thru-traffic detour
If you do not have a destination on Highway 114, please follow the signed detour route on Highway 55 and Highway 28.

Pope County Business Offices Closed on July 4 for the Independence Day Holiday

Pope County Business Offices Closed on July 4 for the Independence Day Holiday

Pope County business offices will be closed on Thursday, July 4, 2024 in recognition of the Independence Day holiday.  County offices will re-open for regular business hours on Friday, July 5, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Pope County law enforcement and dispatch offices remain staffed during the Independence Day holiday.  Dial 9-1-1 for emergencies, or 320-634-5411 for non-emergency calls.

POPE COUNTY EMERALD ASH BORER INFORMATIONAL MEETING HELD BY MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

POPE COUNTY EMERALD ASH BORER INFORMATIONAL MEETING HELD BY MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) conducted a public informational meeting on the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Pope County for local officials and residents on Thursday, June 20, 2024.  A recording of the meeting is now available for viewing by visiting this link.

Johnathan Osthus, EAB Technical Assistance Advisor for MDA, presented information on the Emerald Ash Borer’s life cycle, host trees, recognition, signs and symptoms of infestation, distribution of infestation, regulations, management, and reporting.

During the meeting it was noted that there are now two confirmed sites in Pope County exhibiting EAB infestation, both in Glenwood Township, the first in the area of State Highway 55 and 195th Avenue, and the second in the area of Memorial Drive west of County Highway 21.

For more information on Emerald Ash Borer, best practices, or the quarantine placed on Pope County, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website on Emerald Ash Borer here, or read on below the map for more general information.

Map of Emerald Ash Borer General Infestation Areas in Pope County, Glenwood Township, as of June 20, 2024.

More on the Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer, or Agrilus Planipennis, is native to East Asia. This species was accidentally introduced to North America, where it has proceeded to spread in range and to kill species of ash trees where it exists.  Since first being discovered in Minnesota in 2009, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has now spread to ash trees in 52 of Minnesota’s counties with the confirmation of spread to Pope County.

According to information from MDA, EAB insect larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. Often, the trees show several signs of infestation because of this. Woodpeckers like to feed on EAB larvae, and woodpecker holes may indicate the presence of emerald ash borer. Also, EAB tunneling can cause the bark to split open, revealing characteristic S-shaped galleries underneath.

Because this is the first time EAB has been identified in Pope County, the MDA is enacting an emergency quarantine of the county. The quarantine limits the movement of firewood and ash material out of the area.  A copy of the Emergency Quarantine Declaration for Pope County can be viewed here.

The MDA issues quarantines for all areas known to have EAB to reduce the risk of further spreading the tree-killing insect.

The public will also have an opportunity to provide input on the proposal to add Pope County’s emergency quarantine to the state’s formal quarantine. The MDA is taking comments on the proposed formal quarantine now through July 26, 2024, and recommends adopting the quarantine on July 29, 2024. The proposed quarantine language can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab.

Any quarantine encompasses the Emerald Ash Borer insect itself, as well as the following “regulated articles”:

  • Ash logs
  • Ash tree waste
  • Ash chips and mulch
  • All firewood (non-coniferous)

No regulated articles are legally allowed to move outside of a quarantine area (untreated or treated), unless they are accompanied by a MDA certificate. MDA Certificates are only available when a Compliance Agreement (CA) is signed between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and a company, city, county, agency, or organization interested in moving the regulated article.

To prevent the further spread of Emerald Ash Borer:

Don’t transport firewood, as you may introduce an invasive pest into a new area. Remember that infested firewood may not show visible symptoms.

If you do need to transport firewood, buy MDA-certified firewood. MDA certified firewood has been treated to state standards and the MDA has verified the firewood safe to move throughout the state.

If you have any questions regarding safe-to-move firewood or suspect a tree has a reportable pest contact the MDA’s Report a Pest at reportapest@state.mn.us or 888-545-6684.

EMERALD ASH BORER REPORTED AND CONFIRMED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN POPE COUNTY

EMERALD ASH BORER REPORTED AND CONFIRMED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN POPE COUNTY

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced an emergency quarantine affecting Pope County based on the first-time discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in an ash tree in the County.

Based on a May 30, 2024 site visit and subsequent collected specimen testing, MDA officials have confirmed the presence on emerald ash borer in an ash tree on privately-owned land in Glenwood Township.

Emerald Ash Borer, or Agrilus Planipennis, is native to East Asia. This species was accidentally introduced to North America, where it has proceeded to spread in range and to kill species of ash trees where it exists.  Since first being discovered in Minnesota in 2009, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has now spread to ash trees in 52 of Minnesota’s counties with the confirmation of spread to Pope County.

According to information from MDA, EAB insect larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. Often, the trees show several signs of infestation because of this. Woodpeckers like to feed on EAB larvae, and woodpecker holes may indicate the presence of emerald ash borer. Also, EAB tunneling can cause the bark to split open, revealing characteristic S-shaped galleries underneath.

Because this is the first time EAB has been identified in Pope County, the MDA is enacting an emergency quarantine of the county. The quarantine limits the movement of firewood and ash material out of the area.  A copy of the Emergency Quarantine Declaration for Pope County can be viewed here.

The MDA issues quarantines for all areas known to have EAB to reduce the risk of further spreading the tree-killing insect.

A virtual informational meeting for residents and tree care professionals in Pope County will be held on Thursday, June 20, 2024, from 10–11 a.m. Experts from the MDA will give a brief presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

Emerald Ash Borer Virtual Informational Meeting:
June 20, 2024
10–11 a.m.
Register at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab

The public will also have an opportunity to provide input on the proposal to add Pope County’s emergency quarantine to the state’s formal quarantine. The MDA is taking comments on the proposed formal quarantine now through July 26, 2024, and recommends adopting the quarantine on July 29, 2024. The proposed quarantine language can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab.

Any quarantine encompasses the Emerald Ash Borer insect itself, as well as the following “regulated articles”:

  • Ash logs
  • Ash tree waste
  • Ash chips and mulch
  • All firewood (non-coniferous)

No regulated articles are legally allowed to move outside of a quarantine area (untreated or treated), unless they are accompanied by a MDA certificate. MDA Certificates are only available when a Compliance Agreement (CA) is signed between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and a company, city, county, agency, or organization interested in moving the regulated article.

To prevent the further spread of Emerald Ash Borer:

Don’t transport firewood, as you may introduce an invasive pest into a new area. Remember that infested firewood may not show visible symptoms.

If you do need to transport firewood, buy MDA-certified firewood. MDA certified firewood has been treated to state standards and the MDA has verified the firewood safe to move throughout the state.

If you have any questions regarding safe-to-move firewood or suspect a tree has a reportable pest contact the MDA’s Report a Pest at reportapest@state.mn.us or 888-545-6684.

For more information on Emerald Ash Borer, best practices, or the quarantine placed on Pope County, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website on Emerald Ash Borer here.

 

HORIZON PUBLIC HEALTH SECURES SAFE DRINKING WATER GRANT FOR PRIVATE WELL USERS IN POPE COUNTY

HORIZON PUBLIC HEALTH SECURES SAFE DRINKING WATER GRANT FOR PRIVATE WELL USERS IN POPE COUNTY

Horizon Public Health is proud to announce the receipt of a Safe Drinking Water for Private Well Users Grant from the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Clean Water Funds. This grant aims to promote well testing among private well users and to provide financial assistance to eligible households to address private well water-quality issues.

In Pope County, Horizon Public Health will collaborate with the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office to implement this initiative. 

MDH has allocated funding from the Clean Water Fund to ensure safe drinking water for private well users across the state. A portion of this funding is being distributed as grants to promote private well testing and to provide financial assistance to households facing water-quality issues. Horizon Public Health has been awarded $100,000, which will be utilized between May 1, 2024, and April 30, 2027. The focus will be on promoting well testing for households that rely on private wells for drinking water, including testing for five common contaminants: arsenic, coliform bacteria, lead, manganese, and nitrate. Additionally, the grant will provide financial assistance to mitigate high levels of these contaminants for eligible households.

This grant opportunity represents the second phase of funding for eligible grantees who have previously received the Safe Drinking Water for Private Well Users grant. The initial phase successfully raised awareness and facilitated well testing, and this subsequent funding aims to build on that progress by addressing identified issues more comprehensively.

Horizon Public Health anticipates that funding for private well testing and mitigation will be made available to eligible households in the fall of 2024. Through this grant, Horizon Public Health aims to ensure that all residents within its five-county jurisdiction have access to safe and clean drinking water, thereby protecting public health and enhancing the quality of life in the community.  The grant is available through the entire Horizon Service area, which includes Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens, and Traverse Counties, with each’s Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office serving as implementation partners.

For more information about the grant or to find out if your household qualifies for testing and financial assistance, please visit Horizon’s website at www.horizonpublichealth.org or contact Horizon’s office directly at 320.763.6018 or 800.450.4177.

JUNE 25 GLENWOOD OPEN HOUSE ANNOUNCED BY BIG STONE SOUTH TO ALEXANDRIA POWERLINE PROJECT PROPONENTS

JUNE 25 GLENWOOD OPEN HOUSE ANNOUNCED BY BIG STONE SOUTH TO ALEXANDRIA POWERLINE PROJECT PROPONENTS

Otter Tail Power Company and Missouri River Energy Services, proponents of the proposed Big Stone South to Alexandria (BSSA) Powerline Project, provided area residents with an April 29 update on their proposal and notification of June open houses on the project, which can be reviewed here.

The proponents will be hosting a series of open houses on the proposed project in late June in Alexandria, Glenwood, Benson, and Ortonville.

The Glenwood open house will take place on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Central Square, 105 2nd Avenue NE, in Glenwood.

At these open houses, proponents will be present to review two alternative route corridors that the proponents plan to present to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in late 2024. According to filings by the project proponents, the currently-proposed potential routes for this project do include a significant portion of Pope County land.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will also be hosting Environmental Assessment Public Hearings in the area to take public comments on the need for the proponent’s proposed project.

The Public Utilities Commission area in-person public hearings will be held on Thursday, June 13, 2024 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Northside Elementary School, 1800 Nevada Ave. in Benson; and on Monday, June 17, 2024 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Broadway Ballroom, 115 30th Ave. E. in Alexandria.

The Notice of Public Hearing and Availability of Environmental Assessment from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regarding this project at the upcoming hearings can be viewed here.

Note that Pope County is not affiliated with the proposed project before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, and questions or comments regarding the project should be directed to the proponents, Otter Tail Power Company and Missouri River Energy Services, or to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Contact information for each of those agencies appears below.

PROJECT PROPONENTS: REGULATORY AUTHORITY:
Big Stone South to Alexandria
Otter Tail Power Company and Missouri River Energy Services
(800) 598-5587
connect@BigStoneSouthtoAlexandria.com
www.bigstonesouthtoalexandria.com
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
(800) 657-3782
consumer.puc@state.mn.us
www.mn.gov/puc/

A map of the proposed powerline route area in Pope County was shared with the County Board on May 14, 2024, and is reproduced below.

NOTICE TO NORTH FORK CROW RIVER WATERSHED DISTRICT RESIDENTS

NOTICE TO NORTH FORK CROW RIVER WATERSHED DISTRICT RESIDENTS

NOTICE TO NORTH FORK CROW RIVER WATERSHED DISTRICT RESIDENTS

The Pope County Board of Commissioners is seeking applicants for appointment to the North Fork Crow River Watershed District Board of Managers for a term of 3 years expiring June 1, 2027.  If you reside in the North Fork Crow River Watershed District and are interested in being appointed, send a brief letter giving your place of residence and any other information about yourself which you would like to share with the board on your qualifications or interest in serving to the Pope County Administrator’s Office, 130 East Minnesota Avenue, Suite 210, Glenwood, MN 56334.  Letters should be received by May 16, 2024 to be considered for Board appointment May 21, 2024. For more information – call 320.634.7704.

POPE COUNTY LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT OFFICE TEMPORARILY RELOCATES IN COUNTY COURTHOUSE

POPE COUNTY LAND AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT OFFICE TEMPORARILY RELOCATES IN COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Visitors to the Courthouse and those seeking services at the Pope County Land and Resource Management Office should be aware that Land and Resource Management’s office will be temporarily relocating to the Community Room on First Floor of the Courthouse during a limited office renovation project.

As May begins, Land and Resource Management will be moved from the west end of the First Floor of the Courthouse to the Community Room space on the north side of the First Floor.

This limited renovation, set to be completed through the summer and early fall, will convert the former Land and Resource Management space on First Floor into a new office for the Pope County Auditor/Treasurer, complete with an improved area for election activities and customer service. The relocation and renovation is driven in large part by State mandates requiring expansion of dates and times for election activity at Courthouse, Township decisions to move to mail balloting and designation of the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office as a polling place during elections, increased customer service demand, and improved accessibility and security measures for the office generally.

When renovations on the west end of the First Floor are complete, the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office will relocate to the newly-renovated First Floor space on the west end. In the meantime, the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office will remain on the northeast portion of the Second Floor of the Courthouse. The eventual permanent home for Land and Resource Management will be the former Auditor/Treasurer’s Office on Second Floor when the whole project is concluded.

Information on office locations in the Courthouse will be updated on this website, and also look for signage in the Courthouse during the course of the renovation project.

ROAD WORK BEGINS ON CSAH 8 IN GILCHRIST TOWNSHIP APRIL 29TH

ROAD WORK BEGINS ON CSAH 8 IN GILCHRIST TOWNSHIP APRIL 29TH

On Monday, April 29th Pope County plans to begin culvert replacement work on County State Aid Highway 8 located in Gilchrist Township between the South County Line and Pope County State Aid Highway 10.

Travelers in the area may experience road closures in isolated areas along the route and may require access to property from either a northerly or southerly direction, depending on the particular culvert location being replaced at any given time.

A detour is established around the work zone utilizing County State Aid Highway 8 in Pope County, State Highway 104 in Pope and Swift County, and State Highway 9 in Swift County.

The culvert replacement project is expected to be completed in approximately 30 days. If you have any questions, please call the Pope County Highway Department at 320-634-7745. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

POPE COUNTY PUBLIC-PRIVATE HOUSING PARTNERSHIPS FEATURED ON STATEWIDE “ALMANAC” PROGRAM

POPE COUNTY PUBLIC-PRIVATE HOUSING PARTNERSHIPS FEATURED ON STATEWIDE “ALMANAC” PROGRAM

A local effort involving the Pope County Housing and Redevelopment Authority – Economic Development Authority (HRA-EDA) to expand accessible housing options in Pope County’s rural communities was the subject of a recent statewide television program.

TPT’s “Almanac” television program featured interviews with Cody Nelson, of CSNelson Properties, and Lori Vaadeland, Chair of the Pope County HRA-EDA, speaking about this public-private partnership to build accessible townhomes in Pope County communities like Cyrus and Villard.

The program noted that construction of such accessible, one-level housing options in these communities in Greater Minnesota directly allow existing residents to move to age-appropriate housing in the same community, while indirectly also freeing needed but scarce family and workforce housing stock elsewhere in the community.

The segment, “Greater Minnesota Housing Crunch”, aired April 12, 2024, and can be viewed by visiting the TPT website here, or by viewing the program in the media player below.  Fullscreen view can be accessed by clicking on the arrows icon in the lower right corner.