County board approves grant toward new veterans facility

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $15,000 grant toward construction of a 72-bed veterans nursing care facility in Preston with the hope the building will be used to treat Freeborn County veterans.

Commissioners also approved sending a letter to the city of Preston requesting it considers leaving room for Freeborn County veterans at the facility.

The more than $30 million skilled nursing care facility is expected to be the only one of its type in southeast Minnesota and will serve 15 counties.

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Facility design work is expected to start in October.

District 1 Commissioner Glen Mathiason expressed optimism that the site’s relative proximity to Albert Lea will lead to local interest from veterans.

“Maybe we don’t have a lot at the present time, but with it being where the proposed site is at, we might have a lot more,” he said.

Construction costs for the facility are expected to be covered from local, state and federal sources. The Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton allocated $10.2 million in state bond funds in May.

As of last month, the city of Preston was expected to purchase and donate the 15-acre site for $210,000 and pledged an additional $360,000 in cash. Fillmore County pledged $350,000 in cash.

The federal government is expected to match local and state contributions on a 2-1 basis.

District 2 Commissioner Dan Belshan said he wanted to ensure Freeborn County veterans were not placed on a waiting list.

According to the city of Preston, 18 percent of facility residents will come from the study’s Tier 2 counties — Freeborn, Blue Earth, Faribault, Steele and Waseca.

In other action, the board:

Approved requests by Freeborn County Drainage Inspector Winston Beiser to partner with Freeborn County Soil and Conservation District on ditch work in Bath and Geneva townships and on property south and southeast of Geneva Lake.

Placed Amy Thompson of the Assessor’s Office on regular, full-time status.

Placed License Center office support specialist Nancy Heskett on regular, full-time status and accepted the resignation of License Center office support specialist Miranda Herfindahl. Commissioners approved filling the position.

Approved a request by Mike Wallin for a conditional use permit to establish a home occupation in excess of 2,000 square feet of interior space at 77792 137th St. in the Glenville area.

Approved FTC Tower LLC constructing a telecommunications facility with power in Nunda Township. 

Supported a Waseca County application for Board of Water and Soil Resources funding for a feasibility study within the Le Sueur River Watershed to identify potential water storage, wetland restoration and/or other conservation practices to reduce flooding and water quality impairments. A portion of Freeborn County is included in the watershed district.

Wrote off an uncollectible $815.68 account.

Accepted the resignation of Public Health Department peer breastfeeding counselor Kimberly Wangsness and approved filling the position. 

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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