Crow Wing County is giving residents a chance to see jail life from inside a locked cell.
On April 14, the county is inviting about 40 people - government and school officials, service club members and others - to spend 12 hours in jail for a sleep-over. Individuals will be booked into the new jail between 3-5 p.m. and will be released at 5 a.m. the following day.
"This will be a bonafide jail experience," said Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom. "It will be a great look from the inside and an opportunity we will not have again for decades. ... I think it's a good opportunity to put a spotlight on this facility."
Nystrom said forget notions of bringing an extra pillow or a book. Personal belongings will be surrendered at booking and "inmates" will be given prison garb. Cass County officials and representatives of area officials will be invited.
The county benefits by giving jail staff a chance to check systems with mock inmates, including serving a meal through the kitchen, before the jail is put into official use. Jail programming will be going on that night.
In other business, the board:
Approved a request to close the treasurer's office on Thursday for office relocation from the basement back to the second floor following recent remodeling efforts. The office will reopen Friday.
Withdrew a discussion on designated smoking areas on the county campus. The issue is expected to return to the board in two weeks.
Approved the appointment of Don Hales to the Board of Adjustment at-large vacancy. Commissioner Rosemary Franzen and Nystrom, who interviewed five people, both said they were impressed with the qualifications of all candidates. Franzen withdrew her nomination of Kurt Martin made during a previous meeting. Franzen said the board should do interviews whenever possible as letters of application were not enough.
Agreed to take part in a four-county radio study as recommended by Sheriff Todd Dahl and put a cap on costs not to exceed $29,500. The county expects to be reimbursed for $25,000 of the costs through a state grant.
Dahl said the study was needed as the state predicts running out of radio frequencies by 2011.
Dahl said an alternative system would allow better, faster communication between different departments - such as State Patrol, DNR fire and other fire departments, ambulance, and county road crews. Dahl expects to come back to the board with more information in two weeks.
Agreed to a JOBZ program change as requested by the Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. The change allowed designation of the former AcroTech Midwest property in Oak Lawn Township near Riverton as a JOBZ site.
The state JOBZ program is designed to stimulate economic development activity in distressed areas of the state by providing local and state tax exemptions. The JOBZ program acts as an incentive to businesses by offering tax breaks at specific sites.
Sheila Haverkamp, BLADC executive director, said three businesses - Stern Manufacturing, CDC Enterprises and Stern Assembly - are interested in the property. About 150 jobs were lost here when AcroTech Midwest vacated the building and moved operations to South Dakota.
Haverkamp said Ironton had excess JOBZ designated acreage and was willing to switch that to Oak Lawn Township. The property pays about $13,500 per year in property taxes.
If the JOBZ is created there, Haverkamp said minimal property taxes will be paid until the JOBZ sunsets in 2015. On the plus side, Haverkamp said the area will gain manufacturing jobs that benefit the entire county.
"These companies are very excited about that facility," Haverkamp said.
Approval from the Brainerd School District is needed. Oak Lawn Township and Ironton have already approved the measure.
Heard a plan to upgrade building security, particularly for night meetings in the courthouse, Courthouse Annex and Community Services Building.
The buildings are host to uses by departments, tenants and community groups. County meeting space is available only to groups that have county-related business. A meeting fee is expected to cover security costs with nonprofits having an option to apply for an exemption.
Met in closed session for contract negotiations with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.
Heard an update on the Crow Wing County Sanitary Management District from its board.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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