Guest Column: Board must spend taxpayer dollars wisely
Guest Column by Mike Lee
Hello, my name is Mike Lee, and I am running for reelection as your 5th District county commissioner.
First off, I would like to thank the citizens of District 5 for giving me the opportunity to represent you as your county commissioner for the past nine years. It has been an honor to represent you, and I will always do my very best to represent you in the future.
I have been married to my wife, Renee, for 43 years. We have four children and five grandchildren. I worked at the Wilson & Co./Farmland Foods packing plant for 25 years and at Elm Homes for 16 years. I now devote full time to represent you as your county commissioner.
I’ve always felt we need to do everything we can to keep our roads and bridges safe and reduce deaths on our roads. I’m proud to say that actions taken by this county board have resulted in fewer traffic fatalities. Keeping our roads safe has always been and will continue to be one of my top priorities as your commissioner.
I will continue to support work on cleaning up our natural resources. I support the Shell Rock River Watershed District in continuing the dredging of Fountain Lake. I support their request of acquiring $7.5 million in bonding dollars from the state to finish the project. I feel it’s imperative to dredge Albert Lea Lake to the I-35 freeway bridge. Over 23,000 vehicles cross the lake daily. A great billboard for our area would be for travelers to see people enjoying this natural resource in our area.
Another project that needs finishing is the Blazing Star Trail to Hayward. I will continue to work with our state elected officials to see that this project is funded and completed. We have a beautiful state park in Myre- Big Island, and the addition of the finished bike trail will only enhance its appeal to families to go for recreation.
There are a couple of additions to the park that I believe would be beneficial to bring tourism to the area. One is to reopen the Owen Johnson Interpretive Center. It’s time again to show the artifacts that were found in the surrounding area, giving us a glimpse of the tools that were used here thousands of years ago. Another addition I would also push for is the introduction of bison to the park. The state of Minnesota has seen dramatic increases in visitors to state parks that have bison herds. The additions of these projects could greatly increase tourism into the area.
The addition of starting to work on a recreational trail on the former railroad property to Hartland would also entice tourism here, and funding for this would come through the Parks and Trails Legacy Funds.
One project the board is working on is for a tornado shelter to be built near the mobile home parks on the south end of Albert Lea. This project is long overdue, and hopefully in the not too distant future this project will come to fruition. Seventy-five percent of the cost is covered by a federal government grant.
The county board must always look at spending our local tax levy dollars wisely, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic occurring. With many people and small businesses struggling, we need to work on keeping the 2021 and 2022 tax levies as close to a 0% increase or even cut the levy. Being an old Wilson & Co./Farmland Foods worker, I understand what it is like firsthand to lose a job when you least expect it.
As always, please contact me any time when you have questions or concerns. My phone number is 507-402-1211, and please leave a message. You can email me at email@example.com or by mail at
2141 Kenneth Drive
Albert Lea, MN 56007.
It would be an honor and privilege to receive your vote on Aug. 11.
Mike Lee is running for reelection for 5th District commissioner. He will face off against Lynn Berven and Ted Herman in the Aug. 11 primary, where two will move forward to the general election.