Weather Forecast


BHS yearbook adviser on paid leave

Bid accepted for Highway 371 tunnel in Walker

WALKER — Cass County Board Tuesday accepted the lowest of four bids from Reierson Construction to build a tunnel under Highway 371 in Walker for pedestrians and snowmobilers for $921,881.72.

This also includes the final extension of the Shingobee Connection trail that links Paul Bunyan Trail to the city of Walker and to the Heartland Trail on the northwest end of Walker.

All four bids were under the lowest bid the county received and rejected last fall for $1,024,000. There were not sufficient funds available to do the project at the prices bid last fall, County Engineer David Enblom reminded the board Tuesday.

The Chippewa National Forest will contribute $375,000 toward the project. State legacy fund money from the three-eighths cent sales will pay $425,000. Minnesota Department of Transportation will pay $70,000, plus 10 percent of the underpass cost (estimated to be at least $35,000), Enblom said.

A county trails fund has up to $117,000 available for engineering and contingency costs, he added.

The board’s bid acceptance will be contingent upon the city of Walker also approving it.

May Township officials asked the county earlier this month to assist them with changing the formula May and Meadowbrook Township have operated under to maintain and rebuild when needed two three-fourths mile road sections separating the town towns.

Currently, each town is totally responsible for all costs for one road section. May had sought to have each town continue maintaining the road it had maintained, but to share costs equally whenever construction was needed on either section.

Enblom reported to the board that both road sections currently in good condition.

Historically, the county has encouraged towns to try to work out differences themselves and rarely has gotten involved in township disagreements, Administrator Robert Yochum said.

The board voted to refer the issue back to the townships and ask them to try to resolve the issue themselves.

Sheriff Tom Burch reported to the board he has issued three surface water use permits for Eelpout Festival this year. Besides the festival promoters, he also issued permits to Chase Hotel and Charlie’s Up North, because they also plan to have activities on Leech Lake ice during the festival.

Burch said bonds required for the permits will be held until all lake ice has been cleaned of debris this year after the late February festival.

Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson obtained board approval to apply for three federal grants for the county’s recreational trails.

State DNR grant in aid trails funding was 10 percent underfunded last year and 6 percent underfunded this year. Additionally, the DNR says there is no money in that state fund to pay for construction projects.

The DNR has not reported in two years on the amount of money that is held in the state’s snowmobile, cross country ski or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) funds, Stevenson said, so it is hard to tell whether user fees/licenses are down or why state funding seems to be short.

Volunteers in local clubs maintain Cass’s recreational trails with state funding channeled to the clubs through the county land department.

If the federal grants are approved, one would be for $54,000 to buy two

snowmobiles, three groomers and two trailers for maintaining the county’s five cross country ski trails. The county and local ski club would each match that grant with $6,750.

River water is washing out a portion of Soo Line snowmobile and ATV trail near Federal Dam. A $25,000 grant would be used to repair that wash-out. A $6,250 county match would be required.

Improvements to the bed of Snoway 1 snowmobile trail between County State Aid Highway 40 by Hackensack and the Heartland Trail near Walker would be made if another $40,000 grant is approved. County match for that would be $10,000.

Last year, the county improved the south half of Snoway1.

Stevenson obtained board approval to get more information about costs and possible use of interns to save costs before the county allocates money toward a Minnesota Geological Society ATLAS project.

While obtaining information about the county’s groundwater and in-ground gravel deposits would be a helpful outcome, Stevenson said he wants to know what other counties spent on the project and whether there might be more cost-effective ways to gather data for it.