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Parks department gets permission to buy land

LaGrange County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning to give a positive recommendation to the county council to give the county parks department permission to acquire up to 100 acres of additional land. The land will be purchased from the Juday Family and is adjacent (northeast) to Pine Knob County Park on SR 120 east of Howe.

Dr. John Egli, president of the parks board, said in his presentation that two species have been identified as residents on the property that are on the federal endangered species list. The area is currently a drained wetlands area that the parks department will probably allow to go back to its natural state, according to Dr. Egli.

Endangered species that have been identified on the property include a Massasauga Rattlesnake and the Mitchell Satyr Butterfly. Indian artifacts have also been found on the property.

Funds will be sought from both the Heritage Trust and the Bicentennial Nature Trust for the purchase of the land. Both programs are administered by the Department of Natural Resources. These are two of the main sources of funding for the Pond Lil property recently added to Dallas Lake County Park in the southern part of the county.

Commissioners put a stamp of approval on a plan to lease a building for storage of documents Monday morning. This building will not have any public access and only limited access for county employees, according to Rita Lehner who is leading the project. Lehner will need to present a petition with 50 or more signatures which indicates a need for the facility. After the petition has been certified, the county will hold a public hearing on the matter at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 16.

County Assessor Pat Malone was given permission to advertise for bids for trending and new construction appraisal for the 2014 assessment date of March 1. This needs to happen to help with getting numbers to the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) by their suggested date of May 1 each year. Both personal property and real estate values were balanced for LaGrange County Aug. 14, 2013. The suggested time is July 1 for this to happen at assure a timely delivery of tax bills in May 2014, according to information released by the DLGF.