Thrond wants to create for public involvement

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

Former County Administrator Truman Thrond surfaced on the county political scene when the county board started considering the demolition of L54 building as a part of the courthouse project.

“It’s a functional building with large rectangular office spaces. It has a possibility of being used in many different ways with very few alterations or modifications,” he said.

Thrond’s dedication to the courthouse issue began a couple years ago when the Citizen’s Advisory Committee appointed by the county board came up with an $11 million plan that would vacate the L54 building and build a new, three-level structure on the current courthouse parking lot, that would accommodate county government offices and court rooms.

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The proposal of demolition this year, after the original plan stalled, was a big surprise for Thrond. “It really disturbs me the exaggeration that has been done by professional people just to increase the possibility of taking it down,” he said.

Thrond, in efforts to stop the demolition, formed a group, the ‘Save the L54 Building Committee,’ for which he presided as the vice-chair. Ever since, Thrond has kept attending board meetings and speaking his opinion.

“The more I attended the board meetings, the more concerned I was about the direction the county government was going,” Thrond said. “That’s kind of been one of my platforms to slow down this excess of spending and bring a democratic process back to the county government. The government belongs to the people, not a simple majority of the commissioners.”

The group evolved to the Freeborn County Committee for Fairness (FCCF) that has been demanding a public referendum on the bonding. The organization has made a stir lately, with a controversial lawsuit against the county which has delayed the sale of bonds, adding extra cost to the project because of the interest rate hike.

Thrond denies his membership of FCCF, saying, “After I filed for the office, I was kind of inactive in this. We got a lot of interest in it, but it’s not my committee.”

But, his commitment to the public participation to the policymaking has never faded away, and he still has been questioning why the county would not have the referendum.

“This was such a closed deal. I don’t like the fact that there isn’t respect for all of the commissioners. Every commissioner should be respected equally,” Truman said. “Three commissioners have voted, a simple majority. They are not long-term commissioners. It appears that they’ve been influenced by someone other than Freeborn County.”

Thrond started working for the County Highway Engineer Department in 1954. In his 35 years as a county employee, including an administrative position he held between ’81 and ’89, he said he achieved the development of four lakeshore county parks, the renovation of old Armory building for the Department of Human Services among other capital improvement undertakings.

“I have the knowledge and experience. And no one in the county government is running well,” Thrond emphasized. In addition to more planning, foresight and control on excess spending, he said he would pursue economic development whatever it takes, and create more teamwork in the county and a more democratic process with the public.