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Paynesville Press - January 12, 2005

Stearns County board elects new chair

By Michael Jacobson

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

*The board elected a new chair. Vince Schaefer, who represents the Third District, was elected to be the new leader. The Third District comprises central Stearns County, including the cities of Avon, Cold Spring, Eden Valley, Holdingford, Kimball, Rockville, and Richmond. Shaefer, the former mayor of Rockville, is beginning his third year as a county commissioner.

Second District Commissioner Mark Sakry, who has served on the board for 16 years, representing the cities of St. Joseph and Sartell, was elected the vice chair.

*The board was informed that Stearns County will submit five highway/trail projects to Region 7W for consideration for federal funding in 2008. The Stearns County Highway Department is requesting funds to reconstruct four county state aid highways: CSAH 8 between the old and new Highway 23 near Rockville; CSAH 11 in Freeport; CSAH 13 between Melrose and Meire Grove; and CSAH 51 in Collegeville.

Also on the request list is funding for paving a trail that would run from Richmond to Rockville. Organizers expect this will eventually be a regional trail, connecting with the Glacial Lakes Trail that currently runs from Willmar to Hawick in Kandiyohi County.

*The board asked the Area Planning Organization (APO) to reconsider the priority for the 33rd Street South/Highway 15 interchange and move this up its priority list. Plans are to construct a new Highway 15 interchange and connect it to an expanded 33rd Street South. Once constructed, 33rd Street South will be a main arterial roadway going east to west through the southwestern portion of St. Cloud. Development and growth in this portion of St. Cloud has increased traffic and is putting pressure on 33rd Street South.

In November, St. Cloud residents voted for a local sales tax extension to partly fund this construction project. Currently, this road projects ranks 16th on APO's list of high-priority projects. The board is asking the APO to reconsider this ranking. The APO serves as the basis for requesting federal transportation dollars.

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