WALKER — Cass County Board voted Tuesday to accept the lowest of three quotes to move two large propane tanks from Ah-Gwah-Ching to sites adjacent to the courthouse and highway department.
Gas Service Company will move the tanks, install piping, provide new vaporizers and paint the tanks for $151,850. The county expects to pay an additional $20,000 to convert the boiler at the courthouse to accept propane fuel. The highway department has had propane service, but used a smaller tank that could not accept truckload quantities.
Tim Richardson, central services director, told the board he expects the payback to be less than three years from fuel cost savings.
In response to a letter from Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District, the county also will proceed with plans to sell a third Ah-Gwah-Ching tank to the school district if quotes to move it to the school come within costs the school district expects and the state accepts he sale price.
In other business, several county officials gave updated information on recent floods.
Assessor Mark Peterson said he volunteered two days with assessors from 18 other counties to help assess flood-damaged property in Carlton County. He said damage estimates in that county are $15 million to $20 million for private property and $30 million for public infrastructure.
Assistant County Engineer Kris Lyytinen reported Cass had 31 roads damaged in the June 20 storm. One road in the county’s commissioner District 5 was still under 18 inches of water as of June 30, he said.
In the most recent storm that hit Monday, Lyytinen said all roads were opened to at least one lane of travel by mid-morning Tuesday. Though there were many downed trees from Pine River north in that storm, hardest hit was the far northern part of the county, where accessory buildings were reportedly blown away, according to Administrator Robert Yochum.
In damage Cass County sustained in three recent storms, Lyytinen said damage to county infrastructure has reached a high enough level to qualify the county for federal and state assistance, but Peterson said damage to private property has not reached a high enough level for individuals to qualify for FEMA assistance.
In cases where a private property owner does not expect to repair or replace storm damaged property, the owner could qualify for a property tax abatement in future years Peterson said. Those people should contact the assessor’s office to request a reassessment, he said.
Sheriff Tom Burch reported an effort to encourage boaters to voluntarily travel at no-wake speeds on lakes having high water levels to prevent shoreline damage has had a positive response.
He thanked the highway department for making signs on one-day notice that he has posted at lakes. They advise “Caution” — “High Water” — “No Wake Advised.” He said high lake water levels have been slow to go down so far.
Cass County only controls by law “no wake” zones under a 1993 ordinance for channels between lakes in the Gull Chain and its tributaries.
Burch reported that Cass will receive a higher amount this year, $52,000, for its Toward Zero Deaths enforcement program, formerly known as Safe and Sober campaign. In addition to checking for drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the spot-check program to stop drivers also checks for seatbelt use, distracted driving and compliance with laws to move to a lane away from emergency vehicles.
The board referred to the 2013 budget committee the issue of whether the county will accept a federal COPS grant to add two more officers to the sheriff’s department. Grant money would pay most of the initial cost for the officers, but would require the county to continue employing them after four years at a total county cost.
There also would be some initial county equipment costs, Burch said.
Dan Eikenberry, Cass County Historical Society president, informed the board about community outreach efforts the society has undertaken to provide more historical information to the public and to encourage more financial support.
The historical society has printed a map of 29 historic sites in the county that is available to the public. It also has developed a traveling display of artifacts that is being taken to community festivals this summer, Eikenberry said. The historical society will participate in area parades.
The board approved giving used county computers to the historical society and referred to the budget committee a request to establish a multi-year county contribution level for the society.
Cass County will receive $499,673 federal payment in lieu of taxes. Of that, $349,771 will go to the county and $149,902 will be distributed among 19 northern townships that lie within the Chippewa National Forest.
Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported Cass will receive $20,902 of the $40,000 requested from a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant the county can use to help low income families upgrade failing private sewer systems in the county.
The environmental services department will serve as fiscal agent for $30,000 for the Pine River Watershed Restoration and Protection Project. This is a two-year project to assess the watershed. Separate funding will then be sought for an implementation phase.
Health, Human and Veterans Services spent 32.902 percent of its budget after 41.67 percent of the year through May. Part of the savings came from the fact only 23 percent of the amount the budget expected was spent on out of home child placements in the same time period.
Sheriff Burch reported Lake Hattie Association contributed $100 and Hand Lake Association $50 for invasive species boating cards. Leech Lake township donated $2,000 to the Lakes Area Dive Team.
Kathy Ramos, veterans services officer, reported Hackensack American Legion Auxiliary donated $1,000 to the veterans transportation program.