BLUE EARTH - Faribault County commissioners have approved the purchase of a new van for the Veterans Services Office, expressing a desire that it come from a local dealership.
David Hanson, Veterans Services Officer, said the van he uses to transport veterans has 95,000 miles on it and is worth about $10,500. He priced a 2013 Dodge Caravan at three dealerships: Lager's Chrysler World in Mankato had the lowest bid at $26,500; Militello Motors in Fairmont had a bid of $27,000; and a dealership in Burnsville offered a quote of $27,500. Hanson said the county budgeted $36,000 for a new van.
Commissioner Tom Warmka made a motion to purchase a van.
But Commissioner Bill Groskreutz asked why Hanson had not considered a dealership in Faribault County.
Hanson said he needs a van because SUVs don't have enough room for the veterans to get in with their oxygen tanks. He had only looked at Dodge Caravans, and no one in the county sells new Dodges.
Groskreutz expressed disappointment that no local dealership was contacted and suggested tabling the matter to give Hanson time to do so.
Commissioner John Roper said he would prefer if the van is purchased closer to home, like at Militello Motors; it'd be easier to get it serviced. But he added the board is obligated by law to take the lowest bid.
In the end, the board approved the purchase of the new van.
In other news, state Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, attended the meeting to get feedback from the county about how the people of Wells can secure some federal money to help with rebuilding after a June 12 storm. Wells was hit with heavy rain, hail and flooding.
Groskreutz said about half the homes in Wells have damage and some are still undergoing repairs.
Officials promised to supply Gunther with documentation of the damage to strengthen Faribault County's case in getting the money.
Hanson pleaded the case of the veterans whose homes sustained damage.
"I've been fighting with everyone from the governor's office to Veterans Affairs," he said.
If the governor would declare Wells a disaster area, affected vets could qualify for a grant of up to $1,500 to each, Hanson said. It would help pay to clean up flooded basements and clearing trees, he added.
"The grant wouldn't totally solve the problems," Hanson noted.
"But it would keep the mold out of their basements," Gunther said.
In old business, Michele Stindtman from Soil and Water updated commissioners on the status of StateLine Cooperative's grain facility near Guckeen. StateLine obtained its conditional use permit in June, so it is up to date with the legal aspects, she said.
Since then, StateLine has been testing the soil on a 30-acre site where it proposes to build the $7 million, 1.7 million bushel facility.
Stindtman mentioned that the sale of the 30 acres went through Friday.