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Lake County Board of Commissioners; October 10, 2023

There was lengthy discussion at last week’s Lake County Board meeting about the Hawk Hill Road Bridge. During a recent inspection it became clear that there was wear from ice and debris on some of the wooden piers. Re­placement of the bridge or demolishing it and rerouting the road were talked about but both of those options are costly and would need to be done during construction season. An additional factor in all of this is that the Knife River is migrating some, as a part of its natural process. It is thought that this mi­gration has added to the wear and tear on the wooden piers. In its current condition, the bridge is rated at being able to support 5 tons.

This represents a problem for residents living in the area because vehicles like snow plows and fire trucks exceed that weight lim­it. Two plans were offered for the Board of Commissioners to consider that would in­crease the weight limit on the bridge. Both of these plans represent a temporary fix at best but would buy time to design an alternative and seek funding to pay for it. In the end, the Board voted to accept a plan, put forth by Lake County Highway Engineer Jason DiPiazza, to award a construction contract to put concrete shells around the damaged piers. This fix will increase the weight limit to 10 tons and will make the bridge usable over the winter months.

The Knife River is a designated Trout Stream and unfortunately, the Hawk Hill Road bridge is one of the highest ranked bridges in Lake County in need of replacement.

Lake County officials acknowledged the continued need to seek personnel so that the county departments can be fully staffed. There are needs in the Environmental Services Department as well as needs for an Assessor and a Social Worker. Continued efforts are being made to find and hire qualified can-didates. The Board approved the recruitment of an Environmental Services Specialist, a part-time Administrative Assistant for the County Recorder’s Office, a part-time Administrative Clerk and a part-time Cook.

Work is ongoing to finalize the 2023 – 24 budget with a meeting scheduled for later this month to finish the proposal.

The next Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for October 24th at 2:00.

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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