CASS LAKE -- Whether the major road reconstruction of County State Aid Highway 13 from Highway 200 north extends beyond CSAH 72 into the Leech Lake Reservation community of Onigum will depend upon the tribal council, said Ron Skunes, a representative with the Bureau of Indian Affairs roads division in Bemidji.
Onigum residents at a recent public meeting objected to the county's plan to widen the road up to CSAH 72, then only resurface the existing road the rest of the way into Onigum.
The area is along the south shore of Leech Lake east of Walker.
Skunes said he could complete design plans over the winter to include paved shoulders and drainage ditching like the county plans for the rest of the road, but would need a tribal council decision to divert money planned for another road to that project.
Jonathan Large, assistant Cass County engineer, said the county's project and funding only covers the major improvement to CSAH 72, with an overlay into Onigum.
The county also has no records of any easements on either side of that extension.
Skunes said the tribal council owns the land and could vote to authorize easements to the county.
Also an issue of the wider road improvement is the fact some houses along the road are very close to the road.
Richard Robinson Jr., tribal council member and acting chair of Tuesday's meeting, said some houses cannot be moved closer to the lake and could be too close to permit widening the road as people have requested.
The council and board agreed one successful result of the two bodies meeting together the last two years is the improvement of Boy Lake Drive, serving the east and south shores of Boy Lake, east of Leech Lake.
An effort now will be made to transfer ownership from Leech Lake Reservation and BIA to Rogers and Boy Lake townships.
Cass Sheriff Randy Fisher and Leech Lake Public Safety Director Rocky Papasodora agreed the joint powers law enforcement agreement signed a year ago also has been a success.
"They've sure taken us on as full partners in law enforcement," Papasodora said of the sheriff's department, noting his officers have been encouraged to assist in investigations as well as initial arrests.
"The public benefits," Fisher said.
He noted there probably has been an increase in calls for service rather than a drop since the agreement was signed, but he said this reflects better communications with the public about services law enforcement can provide and an increased confidence in their services.
Robinson said he believes the increased presence of law enforcement vehicles with additional cars Leech Lake provides has been a deterrent to crime in Cass Lake.
Papasodora reported Leech Lake Public Safety has hired an animal control officer with 22 years experience in Illinois.
That officer has answered 300 to 400 calls so far and destroyed about 95 stray animals whose owners could not be found or who declined to control their animals, he said.
The dogs who attacked a retired Cass Lake school teacher while she was jogging on a county trail have been located and two destroyed, he added.
Fisher and Papasodora agreed the county and reservation participation in Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, based in Bemidji, has been a success
"We've got a full jail as a result of our success," he said of that participation and the cooperative efforts between the county and reservation law enforcement.
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