Barnes Discusses Vending, Water Board

Barnes County Extension Agent Ellen Bjelland proposed putting a vending machine containing healthy alternatives to junk food in the courthouse during the Barnes County Commission’s regular meeting on Tuesday.

Currently, two machines are located in the courthouse rotunda, one dispenses Pepsi products and the other Coke products.

The proposed machine would vend healthy foods like sandwiches, milk and healthy snacks as well as Coke and Pepsi products, possibly eliminating the need for the machines that are currently in the rotunda.

According to Bjelland, the machines currently produce less than $400 per year. The proposed machine will not generate income for the county. It would, however, be a good way to promote eating healthfully to employees. One problem, according to Bjelland, is that because some food in the machine would be fresh, the vendor would have to have another, larger account – the John Deere factory – before it would be feasible to service the machine on a regular basis.

Commissioner Cindy Schwehr commented that the machines that were already in the rotunda were an eyesore, that perhaps all the machines should be placed elsewhere in the building. One suggestion was the basement.
The matter was tabled until it is known if the vendor can serviced regularly.

Other matters addressed by the county commission included a report regarding the Bureau of Criminal Investigation joint drug task force which has officers in Barnes County. The county pays more than the city for drug task force services and Commissioner Eldred Knutson wanted to know why. The task force representative explained that the acting sheriff and the acting police chief usually approve the contract. The commission agreed to discuss the matter further after talking with Sheriff Randy McClaflin and the task force coordinator regarding the cost split.

McClaflin told the commission that he had been asked by some concerned parents if his department could have more of a presence in county schools. He told the commission that he would like to, and he was in discussions with at least one district for help with added costs.

The commission appointed Margaret Dahlberg to the library board.

Also, the commission accepted a resignation from water board member Jeff McMillan and appointed Jeff Hurley as the representative of the fourth commissioner’s district for the water board. In addition, the commission approved advertising for water board members for districts one and two.