Jude receives national honor

It isn’t uncommon for the Wright County Board to present awards and plaques of recognition to county employees and departments for achievement. Hardly a month goes by that an employee isn’t recognized at the local, state or national level for individual or group achievement or a program that has become a model for other counties.

However, at the Sept. 10 meeting of the Wright County Board, the tables were turned. Instead of the commissioners giving an award, Commissioner Ken Jude received a pair of prestigious awards for his work with the Central Minnesota Jobs & Training Service (CMJTS) and Minnesota Workforce Council Association.

Those awards for distinguished public service award were accepted on Jude’s behalf at the Minnesota Workforce Council Association’s summer conference in Detroit Lakes. In part, Jude was honored for his “unflinching support of the workforce development system” and cited for his efforts on behalf of greater local control of the system. A third award, however, was extremely rare, as Jude was one of only two elected county officials in the country to be honored by the National Association of Counties (NaCO).

“Commissioner Jude is worthy of the prestigious award,” said Barb Chafee, of the CMJTS, who announced Jude as one of two recipients of the 2002 Distinguished Service Award for County Elected Officials. “Commissioner Jude does not tout his many accomplishments or outstanding services. Therefore, I recruited several willing participants to help tout Commissioner Jude success stories.”

Instead of presenting Jude with a third plaque, Chafee announced that money will be provided to pay for him to travel to the NaCO annual conference Nov. 13-17 in San Francisco at no cost to him or the county.

For his part, Jude was honored and surprised at the display of recognition.  “We usually give these things out,” Jude said. “It’s a little different to be on the receiving end. I was tearing up a little bit when they described all the nice things they said about me. I’m just glad that people think what I’ve done with these organizations is worthwhile and I’m extremely grateful.”

In other items on the Sept. 10 agenda, the board:  * Observed a minute of silence in remembrance of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

* By a 4-1 vote, approved a revised agreement with the City of Otsego for access from a housing development to CSAH 42. The matter was discussed at length at the Sept. 3 meeting and, while problems are expected in the future, a compromise was reached after the county was given authority to shut down access as it deemed necessary – whether it is in 2003 or 2013. Board Chair Jack Russek voted against the revision, saying a problem already exists and giving access to a road only to take it away doesn’t make sense. Highway Engineer Wayne Fingalson, who opposed making the change, said he would not put his signature on the portion of the agreement that said “Recommended for Approval” by county officials.

* Received a summary of 4-H exhibits at the county fair. While the number of exhibits dropped slightly from 2001 to 2002 (2,248 from 2,274), the number of those enrolled went up from 1,453 to 1,752. Dennis Moeller of the extension service said it is a good sign that the number of kids involved continues to stay strong. This year is the 100th year of 4-H and several centennial projects were at the county and state fairs.

* Continued a Sept. 4 meeting of the building committee of the whole until 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 23, to discuss the county’s capital improvement plan for the remodeling of the courthouse. At the Sept. 4 meeting, Commissioner Pat Sawatzke questioned cost figure workups showing a $5 million project was being used as an example. He said the project is more in the scope of $2.5 million. The Sept. 23 meeting will include estimated costs of the proposed projects in the scope of the remodeling process.

* Awarded a contract for emergency culvert repairs following the June floods in the county to Midwest Contracting, Marshall. Midwest submitted the only bid — $367,118 – which was $23,000 over county estimates.

* Authorized County Coordinator Dick Norman to attend the Association of Governmental Risk Pools Governance and Leadership Conference Oct. 21-23 in Oklahoma City.

* Approved a waiver of the 30-day waiting period for county comment on a tax increment finance district proposed in the City of Annandale. A meeting is planned for Sept. 24, after which, if final approval is received by the city, ground can be broken.

* Set a transportation committee of the whole meeting for 1:30 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Public Works Building. Among the items for discussion are options for the county’s five year road/bridge plan, a proposed regional trail system and a proposal from the City of Albertville for improvements to CSAH 19.

* Referred address numbering issues in Monticello and Maple Lake townships to the technology committee.