For a road request, Crow Wing County commissioners were presented with a question not unlike which came first the chicken or the egg.
At issue was a request by developer Shawn Pratt for the county to take over Outback Trail, a gravel road off Legionville Road north of Brainerd in Unorganized Territory. Pratt said the road was started in 2005, but the Great Recession slowed the lot sales. Now, Pratt said all lots are sold. In 2011, the county changed its standard to only accept paved surfaces. Pratt said Outback Trail was never designed to be an asphalt road and he questioned if he should be held to a changed standard when the road was started in 2005. From the county’s perspective, paved roads are easier to maintain.
Commissioner Paul Thiede said if he could try to read something into this, those who oppose the county taking over the road are comfortable with it remaining gravel. County Highway Engineer Tim Bray said he didn’t know of anyone opposed to the county taking over the road. County Attorney Don Ryan said it was best not to jump to assumptions as there wasn’t evidence presented to the board Tuesday of any opposition. Ryan said the board may not have all the data it needs and the county may have to look at what was documented when the road was developed.
Commissioner Paul Koering said Thiede tends to vocalize his thoughts. Koering asked if it was normal for the county attorney to step in when someone was having a discussion. Ryan, also an elected official along with board members, said he is given the authority to comment when he thinks it’s reasonable to do so.
Commissioner Rosemary Franzen asked if the information they needed could be gained from the plat or if they needed to table the discussion. Chris Pence, Land Services supervisor, said the problem is while the county has information on the specifications they don’t have a county highway report from that time on file and things weren’t spelled out then as clearly as they could have been.
Koering said he didn’t think they were ready to make a decision and was in favor of tabling the discussion. The board voted to table the issue. Thiede opposed the motion.
After the meeting, Koering said his remarks regarding Ryan were prompted because it almost seemed like the county attorney interrupted Thiede’s train of thought. Koering said it just seemed like an interruption of a free flow of thoughts, which is part of the decision-making process.
In other business, the board:
Approved the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) biennial service agreement through 2015. Thiede went through several items in the agreement asking questions of staff members. In Crow Wing County the vast majority of MFIP dollars goes to services through Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program such as career exploration, education support and work training. Other services include referral to a counselor, doctor or public health nurse.
Looking through the multi-page agreement, Thiede questioned why parents or guardians of minor teen parents are not required to attend MFIP appointments.
Luke Simonett, employment and economic services division manager, said while it is typically best when family members are involved they are not always available. If the parent or guardian isn’t willing, staff still wants to be able to counsel the teen parent, Simonett said.
Thiede replied they are probably teen parents because there wasn’t parental involvement in the first place and then the county is saying the parents don’t have to be involved.
Administrator Tim Houle said there are instances where parental involvement may be counterproductive such as neglect or abuse. Thiede said he was educatable and was comfortable with that legitimate answer.
Approved advertising for bids for the installation of chevron signs on road curves. The county was contacted to see if it could fast-track a project to begin next spring because there was money remaining in the Highway Safety Improvement Program. Highway Engineer Tim Bray said the program allows the county to leverage $200,000 of federal money with a $22,000 local match for 2,700 chevron signs. Bray said the signs are proven to be a safety measure and were in the county’s safety improvement plan already. Road departures are a leading cause of fatalities in rural areas, Bray said, noting the county will get the value from the signs.
Heard the Crow Wing County Historical Society is hosting an open house 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The historical society has new exhibits and a book authored by the staff. An unveiling of a restored portrait of Lyman White is expected at 11 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.