BACKUS — Cass County Board voted Tuesday to contract with Jon Eclov to serve as the county’s hearing officer for appeals of dangerous dog designations.
The board took this action in response to a recent court decision that determined counties do not have to hold appeal hearings for owners of dogs determined to be “potentially dangerous”, but they do have to provide a neutral party to hear appeals from owners of dogs deemed “dangerous.”
In recent years, the county has conducted appeal hearings for both potentially dangerous and dangerous dog owners, using a panel of Administrator Robert Yochum, the chief sheriff’s deputy and the county commissioner in whose district the dog and owner reside.
Based on the court ruling, Yochum and County Attorney Christopher Strandlie suggested the panel of county-employed officials could potentially be deemed a panel that is not neutral. The decision was made then to seek an outside neutral party to hear these appeals.
While Eclov was an assistant county attorney for 20 years, he has been retired for a few years and does not currently practice law. Yochum said he is trained in legal discovery and evidence gathering and has the qualifications to act in a neutral manner, basing decisions on the law.
The board also voted to assess costs for appeal hearings to the dog owner making an appeal.
Should the owner choose to appeal the case further beyond any decision Eclov makes, the case can be appealed to court.
Eclov’s contract calls for $150 per hour, plus mileage and expenses.
Kevin Lee, Longville Ambulance Service, reported their calls for service were down slightly in 2012 from prior years. That coupled with the fact the service had an unusual circumstance of three employees on medical leave in 2012 left the service with only a 7.7 percent net margin for the year, as opposed to the 10 percent they had set as a goal.
North Memorial Ambulance runs the service, which Lee said is designed to be a nonprofit. The profit margin goal is designed to create a fund for replacing equipment, he explained. The service plans to replace one ambulance vehicle in 2014, he said.
The service transported 209 patients in 2012, compared with 219 in 2011 and 228 in 2010. In 2012, it invested $72,300 in two new CPR devices, two mapping units and two Lifepack 15 cardiac monitors. They expect to convert to on-ambulance electronic medical records keeping in 2013, using new laptops.
Cass Environmental Services Department will serve as the lead local government for the second phase of a Leech Lake River Watershed Restoration and Protection Project being conducted over two years in a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency program to compile watershed history and water quality data to ultimately be used for hydrological simulation modeling, lake protection planning, stressor identification modeling and watershed restoration and protection planning. Phase 2 is a $70,000 project.
County commissioners authorized Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson and Central Services Director Tim Richardson to begin a maintenance improvement program for county buildings in Walker.
The $100,000 project includes separate water valves for jail plumbing, a generator extension, ceiling tile replacement, rest room partition replacement, outdoor lighting upgrades, sidewalk and retaining wall replacements, alternating radiation supply pumps at human services, replacing oil water heaters, added heat/air condition controls, door controls and some new doors.
When proposals and contracts have been received, Richardson will submit those to the county administrator and chief financial officer for final approval before executing contracts.
Anderson informed the board 2012 tax statements will be mailed to property owners about mid-March. She said she cannot mail earlier than that, due to having to wait until all school districts overlapping the county submit their information to be used in computing total property tax bills.