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County tries to make roads safer; purchases land

The Lake County Board of Commissioners approved on Tuesday the purchase of land off Highway 3 near Silver Creek Town Hall for $53,410. It did so to enable a road change, making the curves near the road "a little more gentle."

The property includes a dilapidated home that would be torn down. The county will get about $16,000 back from the state in creating the new right-of-way. It could also sell two 10 acre parcels to get some of the money back.

"The road has such dangerous curves there," Commissioner Rich Sve said.

The decision was made with some controversy.

Commissioner Tom Clifford did not want to set precedent in being forced to buy more property than needed in the name of public safety.

"[We should] take them one by one," Sve said.

Wait on Scenic?

The board also discussed delaying the Scenic Highway 61 road project at the Knife River railroad bridge. Businesses in the area are worried about a road closure during peak tourism season. The road will be shored up to be passable for Grandma's Marathon next month and work was expected to begin soon after.

The road south of Knife River has been closed on and off to traffic since work on the bridge began last fall. The bridge was replaced and new rail installed. The rail work was expected to finish this month to allow the North Shore Scenic Railroad trains to begin weekend trips to Two Harbors from Duluth.

Al Goodman, county highway engineer, suggested starting the road portion of the project in October and finishing it before tourism season starts in 2011.

The project, which would cost about $500,000, is paid for through aid dollars and a grant.

Rahn leaves

County Clerk Wilma Rahn retired Friday after 12 years of service.

"I'm going to miss the people I work with," she said. "They are wonderful people. I feel very fortunate."

Laurel Buchanan of Superior was recently hired to replace her.

Want to make some syrup?

At its Tuesday meeting the Lake County board had a discussion of preserving maple trees on county land so some commercial enterprises could produce syrup.

There are a few people in the area who make maple syrup as a hobby or business.

Cell tower up, not running

The Finland cell phone tower is up but has not been outfitted with equipment. It is expected to be completed in a month or two. There remains a temporary tower that reaches a smaller area that was put up last summer.