The extension of Prairie’s Edge Lane will make for a quicker, safer, less confusing route to the casino.

Longtime plans to extend Prairie’s Edge Lane to establish a more direct route from U.S. Highway 23 to the Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort will finally get under way this summer, according to Upper Sioux Community (USC) Tribal Chairman Kevin Jensvold.
Jensvold and Tribal Vice-Chair Travis Leenerts were in attendance at this past week’s Yellow Medicine County Board meeting to inform  commissioners of their plans to move forward with road extension.  Also on hand was a representative of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), which has indicated its support for the project on the basis of traffic volumes––driven heavily by casino patrons––and safety.
It was roughly six years ago that the USC originally received commissioner support for the project before tribal board members placed the initiative on the back burner in support of endeavors deemed higher priority.
The proposed route will eliminate a left turn for traffic when driving toward the casino from Highway 23.  At present, drivers must turn onto Highway 274 then make an additional turn on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 44, which is aligned with Prairie’s Edge Lane, in order to reach the casino resort.
The new plan will re-align Highway 274 to connect directly with Prairie’s Edge Lane, allowing a quicker, less confusing route for casino-goers. As for Highway 274 travelers, motorists will now have an extra turn when accessing or exiting from Highway 23. The need for CSAH 44, meanwhile, will effectively be eliminated.
One near-sticking point created by the delay were questions as to whether MnDOT would permit the county to recoup the state aid mileage that would be lost with the removal CSAH 44. Jensvold informed commissioners that after raising initial questions, MnDOT stated that it would honor earlier agreements made years prior that would allow the county to  reappropriate CSAH 44’s roughly 4,200 ft. of state aid mileage elsewhere in Yellow Medicine.
“We just want to make sure that the county is made whole,” Jensvold told commissioners.
Altogether the project is expected to cost $2.3 million and will be entirely funded with tribal transportation dollars. The project is expected to get underway this spring and be completed over the course of the summer. A system review of county roads will be undertaken before the location for application of state aid mileage is decided upon.

In other news:
At the recommendation of YMC Sherriff Bill Flaten, commissioners adopted a policy that will require all county employees to be issued, and carry on their persons, an ID card.
While Flaten noted that all county employees were familiar with each other, the IDs would be of particular worth should an emergency situation arise where outside help was called upon and needed to be able to identify local staff members.
•Commissioners also heard  appropriation requests Information Technology Coordinator Dennis Pederson, County Highway Engineer Andy Sander and Melissa Carruth of regional tourism outfit, Western Minnesota Prairie Waters.
•Pedersen was on hand to ask the board to consider funding “Aquos System” audio/video conferencing technology, which would consist of an interactive television, additional microphones and speakers, smartphone, tablet and laptop integration capabilities as well as other attributes that improve the board’s ability to convey and exchange information both locally and at a distance.
Pedersen presented a roughly $80,000 estimate for one version of the audio/video conferencing and presentation platform, noting that the county could choose to purchase the aggregate sum of the system in pieces over the next couple years.
Looking at a budget shortfall in excess of $600,000 already, commissioners indicated they were leery to go forward with anything that would add expense to this year’s budget and indicated they would consider the appropriation at a later date.
•Commissioners approved a request from YMC Highway Engineer Andy Sander to hire one full-time seasonal parks employee and one full-time Highway employee. Board members voted unanimously in favor of the parks post while commissioners Ron Antony, John Berends and Greg Renneke voted in favor of the latter and Gary Johnson and Louis Sherlin, against.