Earthen levee project moves forward | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Earthen levee project moves forward

Posted: February 22, 2011 - 11:07pm

Whether an earthen levee will protect residents from flooding was one of the topics before Crow Wing County commissioners Tuesday.

The Black Bear/Miller Lake levee was established in 1986 and is owned by the county.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is requiring the county to have the levee certified. Without it, residents in the area would be considered at risk of flooding, affecting their insurance. The county reported it received and evaluated four proposals to do the work. Staff recommended the contract with Houston Engineering Inc. in the amount of $43,838.

In other business, the board:
Congratulated staff and contractors on the work for the Riverside Drive/County Highway 20 Ahren’s Hill project. Widseth Smith Nolting was named a Grand Award winner by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota.
The Engineering Excellence Awards are presented annually by ACEC/MN to recognize achievements that demonstrate the highest degree of merit and serve to advance the engineering profession. The Ahren’s Hill project and other Grand Award winners will represent Minnesota in the national competition in Washington, D.C. The project was selected for a Grand Award in a field that included Target Field and the Crosstown project in the metro area.

Widseth Smith Nolting and Gale-Tec Engineering combined talents to design a roadway and a 2,950-foot-long vegetative-faced reinforced soil slope — believed to be one of the largest in the Midwest, in terms of area and length. The project will go on to national competition as on of the 10 selected in Minnesota.

Agreed to a $58,938 grant with the DNR for boat and water safety funding to offset expenses for the county’s boat and water division.

Approved the 2011 harvest plan on county administered tax forfeited land to cut 650 acres of aspen, 100 acres of birch, 450 acres of oak, 80 acres of northern hardwoods, 55 acres of jack pine, 215 acres of red pine and white spruce, and 50 acres of tamarack and black spruce for a total of 1,600 acres. It is 55 acres less than last year. The aspen volume is coming down and the oak going up.

Approved recycling fund requests out of the 2011 Select Committee on Recycling and the Environment budget fund, called SCORE. Requests included: $32,300 for Baxter, $14,000 for Breezy Point, $3,840 for the city of Garrison, $4,000 for Bay Lake Township, $8,000 for Ideal Township, $4,250 Merrifield Lions, $4,500 Roosevelt Township.

Approved contacts with Bay Lake, Center, Crow Wing, Fort Ripley, Garrison, Ideal and Oak Lawn townships to provide 2011 annual March election coordination services.
Discussed whether the Board of Appeals and Equalization meeting should be on a Saturday in June to make it easier for people to attend.

The alternative is to host the meeting during the week, perhaps following a regular county board session, and extending the meeting to at least 7 p.m. to give people an opportunity to attend after work.

Commissioners asked for more detail on how many people attended the meetings previously during the week. The last two years the meetings were done on Saturdays with 11 people last year and 21 people the year before. If the meeting is on Saturday, the proposed date is June 11.

Appointed a selection committee to hire a successor for Jim Eder, information systems director, who will retire as of June 3. Board Chairman Paul Thiede and Commissioner Phil Trusty were appointed to the committee along with: Mark Liedl, land services director; Mike Carlson, accounting and finance manager; Tamra Laska, human resource director; and Tim Houle, county administrator. A community member for the committee will be named later. Interviews are expected in April with a person hired before Eder leaves.
Learned the county is budgeting $132,000 in 2011 to fund two Sentence to Service work crews. In 2010, the county budgeted $123,000 and collected about $6,900 in donations. The county hopes to collect $25,000 in donations for 2011. The STS program involves supervised crews of non-violent jail inmates to work and receive reduced jail time or fines to help government entities and nonprofits.

Met in closed session for Laska’s performance appraisal as human resource director. The county is required to provide a summary of the appraisal at its next board meeting.

Women in government A shocking statistic shows the number of women on county boards is shrinking, Crow Wing County Commissioner Rachel Reabe Tuesday told board members. Nystrom recently attended a meeting in the Twin Cities with Association of Minnesota Counties women commissioners looking at the issue. Nystrom said statistics point to other female participation in government — 34 percent of school board members, 32 percent of the Legislature, 24 percent of city councils. But the numbers find 15 percent of women on county boards and that number is on the way down, Nystrom said. “I find it inexplicable,” Nystrom said, adding more than half of the county boards have no women commissioners and others just one. One of the efforts with the AMC group is to educate people on county government’s role. Nystrom said instead of the tea party, they may call themselves the we party. Or if it’s spelled Wii, Nystrom joked it may mean they just exercise in on mats in front of TVs, after the game and fitness programs on the Wii. Chairman Paul Thiede noted Crow Wing County, with Nystrom and Commissioner Rosemary Franzen, is then well above the state average. Nystrom noted there is a long history of women on the board. “But when you see the statistics, it’s just shocking,” Nystrom said. “You would think our county boards would look like the population but in fact they do not.” — Renee Richardson.