REMER – THE Cass County Board voted Tuesday to channel federal funds to a highway improvement project at Walker to facilitate improving Highway 371 access to the newly expanded U.S. Forest Service office there.
Had the state government not been shut down, the state otherwise would have conveyed the funds to this local federal project.
The plan calls for realigning Walker Bay Boulevard and the access road from the forest service office to meet Highway 371 at right angles, oppose each other. Then, left turn lanes to both roads will be installed on Highway 371.
If a safe schools grant is also approved and there is enough money left from the turn lane project, it is proposed ultimately also to install a pedestrian walkway tunnel under Highway 371 in this area. That tunnel would provide a walkway under the highway from the forest services office, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School and other facilities south of the highway to Leech Lake and the Walker city park on the north side of the highway.
Cass commissioners accepted the lowest bid of five from Tri-City Paving at $1,605,455.10 or 3.33 percent under engineering estimates to replace culverts and resurface County State Aid Highway 7 from County Road 129 to State Highway 6, east of Longville.
In other action, the board voted Tuesday to deny a grievance and forward it to contract labor counsel, Tom Fitzpatrick of Brainerd.
In April, the board approved a revised organizational chart for Health, Human and Veterans Services. As a part of that revision, what had been eight work-specific social worker positions were changed to two social worker classes.
Administrator Robert Yochum said the two classes are consistent with Minnesota Merit System. The county uses that system to certify and screen social worker candidates for employment.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed a grievance, contending the county’s past hiring practice of hiring for job-specific social workers could not be changed, because of language in their labor contract with the county.
Health, Human and Veterans Services spent 43.75 percent of the $13,614,939 2011 budget in the first half of this year or $5,956,958. Out of home child placement costs ran 42 percent of the budgeted $2,480,500 or $1,053,144.
Cass received $583,199.31 interest income on invested funds through June this year or 58 percent of the budgeted amount. That is higher than the $544,913.94 earned the first half of 2010.
Cass sold $127,557 worth of timber to loggers from county land June 30. Prices paid were up slightly, Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson said, citing the $30.56 per cord paid for aspen.
Emergency Management Director Kerry Swenson reported a required Emergency Continuity of Operations Planning document by November. The plan outlines how the county would continue operations if something like a bird flu epidemic should strike, rendering many county employees unable to work.
Swenson obtained board approval to purchase for $5,881 a heating and air conditioning unit for the control center at the Walker communications tower from Thermo Bond Buildings of Elk Point, So. Dak.
Revisions to the Cass County Land Use Ordinance likely will run into this fall before being adopted, Environmental Services Director John Ringle told the county board Tuesday. He met with Commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Jeff Peterson July 11 to answer questions the county board had about proposed changes.
The planning commission listened to comments from people attending a public hearing for two hours July 13.
Based on suggestions received, Ringle said the planning commission will make further changes and Aug. 8 will set another public hearing date to present those changes and receive further public comment.
Updates to the proposed changes will be posted on the county website, www.co.cass.mn.us <http://www.co.cass.mn.us/> , prior to the next public hearing.
Ringle reported the 385 land use permits for new construction issued the first half of this year were down about 10 percent from the 428 issued in 2010, but about the same as 2009. Requests for variances dropped from 20 to 10 and conditional use permits, from three to one, the first half of 2011, compared with 2010.
Permits to do shoreland alterations the first half of the year have dropped from 83 in 2009 to 61 in 2010 and to 56 in 2011. Requests to make minor subdivisions dropped from four the first half of 2009 to three last year and one this year. One new plat was filed the first half of the year in 2009 and 2010, but none this year.