On Tuesday morning, the Watonwan County Board motioned to give one more winter season of support to Odin township.
Currently, the county plows the entirety of Odin, which is the only township in the county to receive such support. Small parts of Echols and Long Lake are also plowed. The county first started plowing Odin in 1969 with a formal resolution. Over the years, there has been no paperwork between the county and township, but snow removal has still continued.
Part of the reason the service has received complaints is the number of commuters, who either travel into or out of the county for work, who need the roads open and cleared to get to work.
After receiving complaints with their snow removal last year, Teal Spellman, Watonwan County Engineer and the rest of the Public Works Department, have worked to restructure their snow removal routes, hoping to make it more efficient.
The Public Works Department has 13 routes, ranging from 21-32 miles. Odin itself has 26 miles. Of those 26 miles, Odin has multiple roads that have no residences. To continue to provide quality service for Odin, the county would likely have to create another route, meaning another hire and another vehicle, which the county does not have the money for.
The county had previously not plowed those roads, but the demand to clear them has increased over the last few years. Some of the roads are postal designated routes and school bus routes.
The township, and all other townships in the county, do receive some reimbursement from the county every July for the snow removal charges. Costs are per mile. The township also receives money from the state in January.
A small group of Odin residents in attendance voiced their displeasures with the board, citing the lateness of notices that the service may be canceled.
"This coming up at the 11th hour to cut us off is unagreeable," said Lowell Mathistad.
"We just don't feel like we can provide Odin township the service it needs, which is why I sent the letters out," said Spellman.
Spellman also noted conversations with other county engineers if they serve townships within their county, citing no other county does.
Commissioner Ray Gustafson recommended starting a township committee, to meet with townships more than just once a year at the township meeting.
"We need to do a better job in communicating between the county and the townships," said Ray Gustafson.
There have also been complaints about service during the summer months with blading in the summer. The Public Works Department has added tracking technology on their vehicles to gather information on when trucks are on certain roads, helping make sure each county road is serviced in a timely manner.
County roads 19, 2, 21, 10, 5, 7, and 52 will all be redone starting next spring.
Ultimately, the board decided to give Odin another winter of service to give the township time to find an alternate service.
The board also recommended Odin to search for alternates, whether it be a private company or by purchasing their own blade.
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