Palo Alto County's first-ever attempt at conducting satellite voting prior to the General Election date was judged to be a success by officials. Palo Alto County Auditor Carmen Moser reported on the satellite voting to the Board of Supervisors during its weekly meeting on Oct. 31.
"We conducted satellite voting on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Mallard, Ayrshire, Ruthven and Graettinger," Moser reported to the board. "There were 47 votes cast in Graettinger, 123 in Mallard, 97 in Ayrshire and 151 in Ruthven, for a total of 418 votes."
"That's a pretty good turnout in Ruthven," noted Supervisor Ed Noonan.
"I heard that a lot of people voted in Mallard," agreed Board Chair Keith Wirtz.
"People were very grateful to be able to vote in town," agreed Mallard Mayor Jim Gehrt, who stopped by the boardroom.
The satellite voting was offered as part of the early voting period authorized by the state, which began 40 days prior to the Nov. 6 election. With re-districting and reductions of polling places in prior years, many residents in the county had expressed dissatisfaction with having to travel from outlying areas of the county into Emmetsburg to vote. Through the satellite voting program, polling places were set up in the four communities to allow voters in the outlying areas to vote closer to home, albeit a week prior to the actual election day.
"I think it went pretty well, and people were very appreciative," noted Moser.
In other business, the board introduced and approved a resolution to form a mental health and disabilities service region, in accordance with the state's mental health reorganizational plan. County Mental Health Director Maureen Sandberg reported that at a recent meeting of the seven counties that are involved in the operations of Seasons Center for Mental Health, it was decided that the seven counties would best be served by establishing a region of their own. The counties, along with Palo Alto, include Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O'Brien and Osceola Counties.
"If you choose to do this, a letter of intent must be sent to the state Department of Human Services by April 1, 2013," Sandberg explained. "This resolution says you will form a region, that's all."
In previous discussions on the mental health reorganization, the board had reached a general consensus that such a region would be in the county's best interest. However, concerns over rules of operation and funding for the region continue to be of paramount concern for the supervisors.
Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to introduce and approve the resolution to establish the region, and with a second from Supervisor Jerry Hofstad the board passed the resolution on a roll call vote of 4-0, with Supervisor Ron Graettinger absent and not voting.
The board also accepted plans and specifications for improvements to Lateral 31 of Drainage District 180 from Kent Rode, drainage engineer, and set a bid letting for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 for the project. The engineer's estimate for the work in the Emmetsburg Industrial Park totals $36,000. It is hoped the work can be accomplished as soon as possible.
The board also approved the final plat for Five Island Shores Second Addition, on the east side of Five Island Lake.
County Zoning Administrator Joe Neary informed the board that the Planning and Zoning Commission had met on Oct. 30 and recommended approval of the plat, which adds and additional 18 parcels onto the current subdivision.
In a final item of business in their meeting, the supervisors set 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the boardroom as the time for a public hearing on the proposed loan agreement to borrow an amount not to exceed $7,500,000 to re-finance the current secondary road bond to take advantage of lower interest rates.