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Board OKs contracts with Paul Bunyan Transit

BEMIDJI – Two contracts with Paul Bunyan Transit, including one that will allow for the continuation of transportation for those seeking methadone treatment, were approved by the Beltrami County Board Tuesday night, but the roads on which those vehicles travel were discussed in length as a point of concern.

Prior to its regular meeting – where contracts with the Bemidji-based company worth at least $45,450 for transportation for social services and to methadone clinics in St. Cloud and Brainerd were approved – the board met with County Engineer Bruce Hasbargen to discuss his department’s five-year transportation plan.

“What we need to know from you is, here’s what we can live with, here’s what would be better and here’s what would be the best for us,” District 5 Commissioner Jim Lucachick told Hasbargen. “Because your five-year plan is living within our means.”

Projects totaling $8.05 million are slated for 2013, and will go to fund the resurfacing of just over 13 miles of county roads, as well as the replacement of a bridge on County Road 22 over Turtle Lake River.

Lucachick and Hasbargen appeared to be in agreement that more road work than is currently scheduled may be needed.

“We need to get to the point where we’re not playing medic and getting to whatever’s bleeding the most,” he said. “Generally speaking, when does this thing hit the wall?”

“I think we’re already there,” Hasbargen said.

The county is responsible for $750,000 of the total costs for projects in 2013, with state and federal aid covering the remainder. But with the possible addition of projects to the plan, District 3 Councilman Richard Anderson offered a glimpse into what may be a future agenda item for the board: county-issued bonds.

“We’ve talked around the fringes about a bonding possibility,” Anderson said. “But certainly by paying down the bonds that we have, that puts us in a better position.”

Lucachick agreed.

“We have the same infrastructure problem as, if you drive on interstates in this state and others, the rest of the country has,” he said. “With the bonding rates so good right now, it may be time for us to consider that.” 

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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