County leaders aim to raise awareness about resources

Published 9:00 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

Graphic by Hannah Dillon/Albert Lea Tribune

Graphic by Hannah Dillon/Albert Lea Tribune

It’s National County Government Month, and Freeborn County leaders are raising awareness about the services the county provides.

Established in 1857, Freeborn County covers 722 total square miles and has 31,255 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. It has 14 cities and 20 townships.

With 292 workers, Freeborn County is the sixth largest employer in Freeborn County. It has 17 total offices and departments.

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“County government is often referred to as the invisible or hidden form of government, but counties touch every Minnesotan whether they live in cities, towns or rural areas,” said County Commissioner Chris Shoff, who recently gave a State of the Counties address as acting president of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “County government is a part of every Minnesotan’s life, from birth records to death records and every important life moment in between.”

The Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday declaring April as National County Government Month.

The following is some statistical information on Freeborn County and some of the services the county provides:


County roads

• It costs $1 million per mile to reconstruct a county state aid highway and $250,000 per mile to overlay a road.

• There are 174 town and county bridges in Freeborn County

• An estimated half-cent sales tax would bring in an estimated $2 million a year for highway projects.


Human services

• About $67.8 million was spent in 2014 for support, health and social service programming in Freeborn County.

• 16,175 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cases were processed

• 1,705 MNsure cases were processed.

• $1.58 million was spent on court-ordered out-of-home placements.



• The assessor is responsible for 22,031 parcels of property in the county.

• There are 14,044 housing units in the county


Court services

• The Court Services Department provided case management to 1,182 clients and supervises two diversion programs

• This department provides 75 percent of the funding for the Sentence to Service program, which completed 6,000 hours of community service work in 2014


Drainage system

• The county maintains 345 miles of open ditch and 391 miles of tile.


Environmental services

• Freeborn County was the first in the state to establish a 16.5-foot buffer strip along the entire open ditch system to protect waters from pollutants.

• The county has given 49 loans totaling $527,000 to residents upgrading their septic systems.

• The county collected 29,180 pounds of household hazardous waste in 2014.


Sheriff’s Office

• 2014 traffic stops: 1,933

• 2014 citations issued: 617

• 2014 DWI arrests: 46

• Vehicles: 30, including squad cars, pickups, a jeep, transport vans, boats and ATVs

• Personnel: 77, including dispatchers, patrol deputies, jail staff, transport deputies and other staff.