‘Refugee Resettlement Program’ will go to a public hearing
A request for written consent by the federal government to establish a Refugee Resettlement Program in Lyon County brought a variety of opinions from county residents on Tuesday.
“What we’re looking at doing is allowing refugees to come to Lyon County,” said Commissioner Charlie Sanow. “Can we control all of immigration in the United States? Not likely,” he added.
After hearing a variety of comments, the board decided to hold a public hearing. Commissioner Sanow said, “I would like to suggest a public hearing.
I don’t want to talk about immigration but about refugees and settlements.” The board set the public hearing for 6:30 p.m. January 28. The site was not determined.
Angela Larson, Director of the United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) of Lyon County spoke to the board regarding the “Refugee Resettlement Program.”
She said the program only serves a small number of households but, “Makes a big impact by reuniting families. UCAP was seeking consent to establish a refugee resettlement in Lyon County.”
President Donald Trump has issued an executive order requiring state and local governments to provide written consent to the federal government before refugees can be resettled in their jurisdictions.
“Beginning June 1, 2020 this order will apply to all arriving refugees, including those with family members already living in Minnesota.” “The number of people coming to Lyon County has been very small,” said Larson.
“In 2017, there were six households and seven individuals; in 2018 two households and five individuals and in 2019 six households and 25 individuals,” Larson said.
Commission Chairman Gary Crowley asked what it costs to re-settle people in Lyon County. Larson said refugees normally pay taxes and provide income to the economy. “We’re talking 37 people in Lyon County in three years and those people are going to work,” said Commissioner Charlie Sanow.
“These people have an excellent reputation,” he said. “These are not people crossing the border.” He added, “They (UCAP) has done an excellent job of seeing these people are employed.”
Commissioner Rick Anderson said, “In the nine-county area we serve, there are 2,700 different jobs available. Most of those jobs are in areas the refugees are filling.”
He added, “If we have people who want to move in and be productive, we need to help these people,” he said. “The employers I’ve talked to want more because they’re excellent employees,” added Commissioner Sanow.
The refugees in this program have been forced to flee their homes due to violent persecution.
This program to resettle refugees is of “special humanitarian concern.”
After Chairman Gary Crowley questioned why local governments had to make a determination on the program, it was stated that local governments have the opportunity to provide input in refuge resettlement.
A packed audience attended the meeting and questioned the dollars spent on the refuge program and the stress on an already overburdened economy. One resident asked if these refugees would be seeking citizenship.
“These people want citizenship. It takes about five years and that’s what UCAP does, walking them through the citizenship program,” said Commissioner Sanow.
When asked about the expanded costs of education in the local systems, Larson said, “Again, we’re talking about a very small amount of people.”
Larson indicated that only six refugee children have entered the school systems in the last year.
“You may be talking about a few individuals who are working, but they are bringing in a cadre of other people who need education,” said one para-professional working in the Marshall School District.
She indicated there are, “More dynamics and ripple affects to those people we serve.” She tried to leave no doubt that the immigration program would affect the educational economy of the area.
“I frankly want to see Marshall grow and I want to see people who speak more than one language,” said Justin Vorbach.
“I want it to be an open, welcoming community,” he added. Testifying to the board was an emotional Samira Sheikh, who told a story of being smuggled out of Somalia. “We survived and were fortunate to come to the United States.”
She added, “We came here to join our family that was here,” she said. “We have our family here. This is home for me,” she said. “The government will provide $1,000 to $1,800 per person coming to the county. That’s peanuts,” said one resident. “I’m not against helping people, but the taxpayers always get the bill,” she said.
She added, “These people bring more people and more people,” she said. Displaying another problem, a home renter said he, “Rents to four (people) but have 12 in the house.” The commissioners concluded the informational hearing and referred the matter to the upcoming public hearing.
Solar farm permits issued
The Lyon County Board Tuesday approved a Conditional Use Permit for Nexamp Solar for sites at Yankton Solar and Balaton Solar.
Yankton Solar is located in Rock Lake Township and the Balaton Solar plant is located at 120th Street and County Road 63 near Balaton. They seemed most concerned with how the facility would be “decommissioned” when it is no longer being used. At Yankton, Nexamp Solar intends to construct a ground-mounted Solar Farm facility in an agricultural area, and at Balaton, a one-megawatt solar farm will be built on the site. Previously, the Lyon County Planning Commission recommended approval of the two solar farm sites. Decommissioning plan A decommissioning plan ensures the facilities will be properly removed in the event they have not been in use for 12 consecutive months.
The plan will include provisions for removal of all structures and foundations, restoration of soil and venation, and a plan to further ensure that financial resources will be available to decommission the sites. The board discussed the posting of a bond to help ensure that the decommissioning of the site will take place.
Commissioner Rick Anderson made the motion to approve the conditional use permit with the added stipulation of $25,000. The board decided to ask the company pay $5,000 up front cash now, then $5,000 at the end of five years and another $5,000 at the end of 10 years. At the end of 15 years, another $10,000 to get to a total of $25,000 bond paid. This will be paid by Nexamp Solar Farms. “This will help ensure we can help keep this project going,” said Commissioner Anderson.
The same bond plan will be in place for both sites.
IN OTHER action the board:
•The Lyon County Board of Commissioners began the new year by re-electing Supervisor Gary Crowley as board chairman for 2020. The board immediately agreed to keep Crowley as chairman. They also elected Steve Ritter as vice-chairman of the board.
•Approved the Official Publication and the Lyon County website as official publication of advertisements for transportation and related projects.
•Approved hiring Patty Bossuyt as an on call general equipment operator.
•Increased their funding to the Lyon County Fair Board.
“We just wanted to bring the budget to you, so you can approve it,” said Mark Sleiter, new Lyon County Fair Board Chairman. “It’s the 150th year and we’ll need a little more money,” said Sleiter.
Bob Richards of the fair board said there are several new specialty acts in addition to the carnival, and they want to make it a special year. They asked for an increase in the amount provided by the Lyon County Board. The county board had approved a $40,000 budget to go toward the 2020 budget.
Commissioner Rick Anderson made the motion to increase the budget by $7,500. Sleiter and Richards indicated they had a great financial fair last year.
The 2020 budget was set at $174,047.