Crow Wing County Commissioners on Tuesday decided to seek applicants for a part-time emergency management position.
County Administrator Peter Herlofsky Jr. recommended appointing Kevin Mahle, former Brainerd fire chief, as the county's emergency management director for the remainder of 2004 on a part-time basis. The position could be made full time in 2005 if other communities join the county in funding the position.
Prolonged silence from the board followed Herlofsky's recommendation.
Herlofsky said he wanted to have an experienced person handle an all-day live emergency exercise in September that uses Homeland Security funds. Commissioner Ed Larsen said he still does not feel any more informed than when the board tabled the issue on July 27. However, Larsen said hiring someone even part-time now is in effect hiring them for the position. Larsen previously spoke in favor of seeking applicants by advertising for the job. On Tuesday, he said the issue should be part of broader budget discussions. Money for the position this year is within the budget.
Commissioners said they did not doubt Mahle was qualified, but they preferred advertising the position rather than appointing someone. Commissioner Terry Sluss said there are emergency communication issues, which arose during the 2001 tornado and the 2002 wildfire in Barrows, that have yet to be resolved.
Commissioner John Ferrari said people may be surprised by the talent out there in the county.
In other business, the board:
Directed County Attorney Don Ryan to continue to negotiate with the owners of the Elks Building near the courthouse and start eminent domain proceedings. Commissioners decided to talk about a new appraisal in open session, although a new state law gives them the option to handle the discussion behind closed doors. They heard results of a second appraisal on the Elks Building was $100,000 less than the original appraisal. The second appraisal was for $858,500. The original appraisal was $959,000. The eminent domain proceeding will use the lower appraisal amount. However, a court can make its own decision.
Met in closed session to discuss pending litigation and strategies related to the eminent domain proceedings against the office building owned by Craig Williams and office relocation for Brainerd city attorney Tom Fitzpatrick.
Agreed to put in a new elevator in the courthouse after the November elections. A new elevator is part of the master building plan, but completion of the project was expected at a later date. The elevator has malfunctioned recently and has stranded a passenger.
Larsen said the concern is the elevator may be called for one day and it will simply stay in the basement. The immediate concern was starting the construction after elections when the elevator is sorely needed to transport many election results boxes among other things. The county will look for an alternative system should the elevator fail to work at a crucial time. "If it fails during the election we'll have to use ropes and pulleys," Sluss said.
Heard a request from Herlofsky and sheriff's officials for a change in the jail vending contract. They want to install machines that would require computerized transactions. Commissioners expressed concern about trading what is expected to be more revenue for the county against taking away a program from a blind organization. The current vendor is Services for the Blind.
Heard a funding request from the Initiative Foundation.
Set a public hearing on Aug. 24 to consider prohibiting boat navigation in Kimball Creek, which is the Kimball Lake outlet to Lake Ossawinnamakee.
Appointed Commissioners Larsen and Gary Walters to canvassing boards for primary and general elections.
Voted 4-1 with Walters opposed to approve Bradley and Teresa Gilmer's request to rezone from agriculture to commercial for the establishment of an equine veterinary clinic on 3.2 acres in Perry Lake Township.
Tabled a zoning change and plat request by Randy and Collette Peterson, Unorganized Territory, pending more information.
Denied a petition for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for Jerry Poland's Cedar Pointe proposed development citing changes made to answer earlier DNR concerns.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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