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Goodhue County Board briefs

Board OKs 52/9 grant changes

Goodhue County Board voted unanimously to make changes to a Corridor Investment Management Strategy, or CIMS, grant proposal for a Highway 52 and County Road 9 overpass, moving ahead with a Minnesota Department of Transportation plan revealed last week. The county originally sought funding for a diamond interchange, but will instead propose a more modest quadrant interchange at the dangerous intersection.

"Our original CIMS request was looking for over $8 million, and now we're looking for just over $2 million," said Ken Bjornstad, Public Works deputy director. "So we think we have a very good chance of it being selected."

"I think this was a case where everybody involved said, 'Well, maybe that's not a good idea, but let's find a better one.' And they all worked together and they found one," Commissioner Richard Samuelson said. "Now we're going to find the funding and we're going to (build) it next year."

CIMS grant selection is expected by month's end.

Florence family allowed to keep alpacas

The board approved an interim-use permit for James and Nancy Koester to keep alpacas on a 6-acre lot in Florence Township. County ordinance allows for up to three horses on a minimum 5-acre lot, but it does not cover alpaca.

The county's feedlot officer determined alpacas -- described as "docile" animals about the size of a large dog -- equal to .2 animal units, according to a Land-use Management report. The interim permit allows the Koester's to keep up to 15 alpaca on their land.

The Koesters stated at a public hearing that they intend to use the animals' fleece or fiber for textiles.

Land-use Management said it will discuss changes to county ordinance to allow property owners to keep unusual animals, such as alpacas and chickens, sometime in the future.

County to hire for dispatcher opening

County Board gave the go ahead to replace an emergency dispatcher who recently resigned. The county employees 12 dispatchers, all of them work full time.

"It's a 24/7 operation, and we want someone there to answer the phone when you call 911," Commissioner Jim Bryant said.

Meeting watch

Tuesday's County Board meeting lasted about 25 minutes. Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel was not present; he was in Washington. D.C.. on a county-funded trip to meet with federal lawmakers.

-- Compiled by Michael Brun, staff writer