WALKER – In less than a minute Tuesday, Cass County commissioners had a motion, second and vote to name Jeff Peterson chairman and Dick Downham vice chairman for 2012.
Rep. Larry Howes, observing the county action from the audience, laughed and said, “It took us (state House Republicans) two days to do that.”
Central Services Director Tim Richardson obtained board approval to explore purchasing iPads for the commissioners this year as their laptop computers reach their life expectancy. Instead of paying about $1,800 for a new laptop and related printer, Richardson said the iPads would cost about $500, plus $150 for a compatible printer.
Additionally, the commissioners agreed to try receiving their board packets of information on the iPads instead of by mail in paper form.
The commissioners selected the Walker Pilot-Independent as the official county newspaper again for 2012 at the same publishing rates as the county has paid since 2006. Printing for the county’s second financial statement was awarded to the Cass Lake Times.
They set the per day meal and incidental expense rate for employees to be reimbursed for overnight travel outside the county at $46 per day, with higher rates paid at $56 for expenses spent in Dakota and St. Louis Counties, $71 for Hennepin and Ramsey and $51 for Olmstead.
Employees must submit itemized receipts in order to collect these expense reimbursements.
Leech Lake Band Chairman Arthur LaRose informed the county board by letter that Eli Hunt, former tribal chairman, has been selected as government relations specialist. In that role, Hunt will arrange meetings with state legislators, U.S. congressmen, elected and appointed county officials and other tribal governments. Hunt also will be responsible to track legislative and appropriations proposals that may impact Leech Lake Reservation.
Melanie Wolfe, Cass Health, Human and Veterans Services financial supervisor, reported that department spent 77.16 percent of the 2011 budget after 91.67 percent of the year at the end of November.
Out of home child placement costs ran 74 percent of the anticipated budget through November, with the county share of those costs after reimbursements at 68 percent.
Renee Lukkason, family health supervisor, informed the board that county health services will make available 250 free radon testing kits for any county resident to check their home this year. There were 200 kits available last year. Interested residents can pick up a kit at the County Health Department office in Walker or their local family center. After following directions in the kit to run a test, the kit can be mailed to Minnesota Department of Health to obtain test results.
If the test shows radon present in the home, a booklet tells mitigation measures the homeowner can take to stop radon from entering their home. Mitigation costs usually run about $1,500, Lukkason said. Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas found in the soil that can enter a home through cracks, openings in the basement, foundation or slab under a home or through walls, she explained. About one in three homes is believed to have radon present, she added. It is a health risk for residents of an affected home.
Cass commissioners approved an on-going agreement with the state for the county to purchase equipment under state bids. Until now, the county has made one-year agreements. State legislation passed three years ago mandates counties to purchase under state bids unless the county can show it is more cost effective to solicit bids locally, according to Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe.
Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson obtained board approval to award a contract to Storlie Construction, the lowest of five bidders at $7,600, to demolish structures on two tax forfeited lots in Cass Lake. Grivette Environmental was the only bidder at $700 and was awarded the contract to do asbestos abatement on those structures before they are removed.
The county sold 6,801.5 cords of timber from county land at a Dec. 21 auction for $153,693. Loggers paid $27.25 per cord for aspen, as little as $7.75 per cord for a small amount of ash and as much as $30.96 per cord for a small amount of white spruce.