Board looking to team up with FBI for shooting range

There are some who would say having the FBI hanging out in your backyard is a very posi- tive chip to have in your pocket in the event of an emergency. At its June 25 meeting, the Wright County Board of Commissioners approved moving forward with the FBI to construct a relatively elaborate shooting range – with the FBI picking up the majority of the tab.
Commissioner Mike Potter explained the proposal, which came out of the July 12 building committee meeting. Initially, the sheriff’s department had placed the construction of the shooting range as a future capital improve- ment project. The complex would be located at the former Rasset gravel pit site by the Law Enforcement Center – a piece of property the county purchased more than a decade ago to use as a gravel resource. The site is cur- rently bare and an ideal site for the shooting range and associated buildings.
The FBI reached out to the sheriff’s department with ideal timing to help pay for the project.
“They (the sheriff’s depart- ment) have been contacted by the FBI about a potential partnership out there,” Potter said. “It ap- pears that the FBI is losing their
lease at their current shooting range. The timing couldn’t work out better for Wright County, be- cause they’re looking to put in a significant amount of money on this.”
The FBI is looking for a 20- year agreement that would be much larger in scope than merely a firing range. The plan would in- clude an expanded firing range, a tower, a use-of-force training room, a classroom, ammunition storage room and a gun cleaning room. The FBI is expected to cover the costs for the construc- tion of the range, tower, class- room and the gun-cleaning and ammunition rooms, greatly min- imizing the county’s cost.
Potter said that the county’s Emergency Operations Center could also move out of the county courthouse into a location at the Law Enforcement Center as well, giving the county the op- portunity to make that move as part of the larger project given their reduced funding costs.
The board authorized the county to move forward with the project, pending a feasibility study to be conducted by the FBI, which Potter stated was lit- tle more than a formality. When the FBI returns with cost esti- mates and the level of contribu- tion it is willing to make, the matter will return to the full
“I think it’s a good fit for a
partnership because we’ d have some benefit from some FBI training out there,” Potter said. “There would be separate areas for the FBI office and our office, but most of the stuff would be combined together. It’s a great lo- cation out there for that. It’s close enough to the metro for the FBI, so they’re interested in it. It’s a win-win for everybody involved in this.”
In other items on the July 25 agenda, the board:
• In a pair of unrelated ditch items, took a pair of actions. First, the board approved the findings and ordered the re-es- tablishment of the correct drainage system record for County Ditch 10. The records for Ditch 10 were lost at some point and were decades old at the time – the county ditch system was created more than 100 years ago. Secondly, the board adopted the findings of fact and ordered a re- determination of benefitted landowners on County Ditch 18. The county board is the ditch au- thority, but the cost of any repairs or need for work to be done on county ditches is charged back to the benefitted landowners.
• Authorized signatures on the 2018-19 Radiological Emer- gency Preparedness grant
through the sheriff’s department in the amount of $437,000.
• Referred discussion of elec- tion equipment as an agenda item to the Aug. 8 committee of the whole meeting.
• Was short-handed with just three commissioners at the meet- ing. Commissioners Darek Vetsch and Christine Husom were taking part in a day-long Emergency Operations Center drill at the Monticello nuclear power plant. As a result, all votes needed to be unanimous to pass at the board meeting.
• Referred discussion of re- pairs to the Marysville Township Hall to the building committee. The old township hall is a histor- ical site that was taken over by the county several years ago and has been county property ever since.
• Approved quotes for the construction of a new retaining wall at the Health & Human Services Center. The wall, which is estimated to be 30 to 40 years old, has shown signs of failing, which has become more pro- nounced in recent months and it was determined the work needs to be done now before the entire wall fails and collapses.
• Referred to the personnel committee discussion of the po- tential hiring of a business ana- lyst position.
County almost surely will not face 2020 redistricting
by John Holler Correspondent
Since 1790, the United States has conducted a census to deter- mine the population of every city and township in the country. Every 10 years since, those pop- ulations have been updated. However, between those 10-year cycles, population increases or decreases are estimated by the State Demographer’s Office.
At the June 25 meeting of the Wright County Board of Com- missioners, the Wright County Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala presented the annual demogra- pher’s estimates for the popula- tion, citing that the county’s population grew by 1,237 peo- ple.
“These are the official num- bers that are used for funding and programs based upon popula- tion,” Hiivala said. “They’re es- timates, but they’re as accurate a count as we can get between the census periods every 10 years.”
Redistricting has been the source of wide debate and hurt feelings the last two times it hap- pened. Following the 2000 cen- sus, the board had to redistrict and the selection chosen took Commissioner Ken Jude’s
hometown of Maple Lake out of his new district. Following the 2010 census, the redistricting choice that was made placed two sitting commissioners – Pat Sawatzke and Rose Thelen – to run against one another and there would have been a second head- to-head commissioner election showdown between Commis- sioners Jack Russek and Dick Mattson, but Russek decided not to run for re-election if it meant going up against his fellow com- missioner.
The result of the 2010 census left two commissioner districts without a sitting commissioner – District 1, which was eventually won by Commissioner Christine Husom, and District 3, which was eventually won by Commis- sioner Mark Daleiden.
The rationale was simple and forward-thinking. To avoid a third straight redistricting that would require all five commis- sioners to run for re-election in 2022, the county board selected a redistricting plan that made the fastest growing district (District 3) the smallest and the slowest growing district (District 1) the largest. To date, that plan has worked out perfectly more than
six years since the last census. In order to require redistrict- ing, the size of the commissioner districts would need to be more than 20 percent different than the average size per district – either above 110 percent of average or less than 90 percent of average. Using the current numbers, the average size of a district is 26,520 – with 110 percent of that being 29,172 and 90 percent of that average being 23,877. Cur- rently, the closest district to the current top threshold is District 1, which is almost 1,400 resi- dents below the current line and has added less than 1,100 resi- dents over the last six years. The smallest district is District 4, which is more than 1,100 resi- dents above the bottom threshold and growing faster than the other
district average.
“There was some thought
that, given the redistricting that had to take place twice in a row after the census period, there should be consideration given to where the county was growing its most in population,” Hiivala said. “When the commissioner districts were drawn up in 2012, it was definitely taken into con- sideration.”
The key to making the 2012 redistricting successful is that it foresaw the disproportionate growth of District 3, which in- clude sOtsego and half of St. Michael. The state demographer has estimated Otsego to have grown by 2,448 residents – more than double the growth of three of the other four commissioner districts by itself and almost 1,000 more than the other fastest growing district (District 5).
District 3 was intentionally designed to be markedly smaller. At the time, it contained 22,742 residents – the very lowest end of the commissioner district size and almost 4,300 less than the largest district (District 1). Six years later, those two districts are now less than 2,500 people apart and the gap continues to shrink.
While Wright County contin- ues to grow, at least the county isn’t going to have to worry about yet another slate-cleaning of commissioner districts.
“It was the hope at the time we did the last redistricting that we wouldn’t have to do full re- districting again,” Hiivala said. “It’s good to hear that it’s look- ing like we won’t have to do it again after the next census.”

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