Renovations to the historic courtroom, now the Crow Wing County Board room, are expected to cost more than expected.
Tuesday the board agreed to spend up to $20,000 more for the project, which was expected to cost about $148,000. Of particular issue are the former courtroom's main doors, which open into the room instead of out as fire regulations require, according to a Brainerd building official. Board members said they were concerned about losing the historic aspect and about the $12,000 price tag to replace three doors.
Commissioner Dewey Tautges said the whole idea was to keep the room as historic as possible. Administrator Tim Houle said the board could challenge the decision but it will delay the project, which was hoped to be ready for the Dec. 29 board meeting. Commissioner Paul Thiede said it feels like the county has a gun to its head as in make the change or the project will be delayed. Thiede said that was distasteful and didn't warm his heart for the city of Brainerd.
The board approved the modified budget and asked Houle to speak to the building official about the need to replace the doors.
Land Commissioner Tom Cowell is retiring in January after 29 years with Crow Wing County land department. Cowell has been land commissioner since 1990. He spent four years with the Cass County land department. An open house retirement party is planned from 2-4 p.m. Friday in Meeting Room 1 in the Land Services Building, behind the historic courthouse in Brainerd.
I've made a lot of great friends over the years, Cowell told commissioners at the board meeting Tuesday. So it's been a good career.
- Renee Richardson, senior writer
In other business, the board:
Met in closed session twice. The first closed meeting was a lengthy one as the board considered pending litigation concerning the representation of parents in child protection cases. The other closed session involved labor negotiations. In the child protection cases, Houle said in March the public defenders stopped paying for parent representation and some have come to believe the county should be paying for that service. Several attorneys spoke of unpaid invoices for those types of cases. In July, the county stated it would not pay for those services.
Board Chairwoman Rachel Reabe Nystrom said it's a complex issue involving a lot of money as the county feels squeezed and the state probably does as well.
"Who we really don't want squeezed are the kids and the families in this county," Nystrom said.
County staff was requested to come back to the board with a range of options for its Dec. 29 meeting.
Authorized the mileage reimbursement rate at 55 cents per mile to follow the Internal Revenue Service guidelines.
Approved advertising for sealed bids on County Highway 3 (resurfacing and installation of left turn lanes), County Highway 10 (reconstruction) and County Highway 48 (paved multi-use trail) projects for 2009 construction season.
Approved resolution for speed study on County Road 210 also known as Fawn Lake Road, which by statute has a 55 mph limit now.
Approved the plan to have a limited number of county credit cards for such items as travel. Tautges opposed saying it was easier to spend money with a credit card. Expenses have to be backed up with receipts. The program includes a Web-based program for mileage and out-of-pocket reimbursement with direct deposit repayments, which is expected to save the county money on printing checks.
Approved a resolution to act as a fiduciary agent for the city of Ironton for a transportation enhancement grant for improvements on Curtis Avenue.
Supported a Minnesota Department of Transportation safety study for BNSF Railway crossings east of Brainerd. Four county road crossings - on county roads 25, 102, 8 and 32 would be studied and if improvements are required federal funds would cover 90 percent of costs of those upgrades.
Approved the proposed 2009 timber harvest plan and authorized setting a public hearing at a later date. The timber cutting plan is available at the Brainerd Public Library, land services office and the auditor's office. The plan proposes to cut about 800 acres of aspen, 200 acres of birch, 200 acres of oak, 100 acres of northern hardwoods, 25 acres of jack pine, 145 acres of red pine and 50 acres each of tamarack and black spruce and 25 acres of balsam fir.
Approved a Parent Support Outreach Grant for families, which means cases that don't meet child protection services requirements could still get intervention services through a subcontract with Bridges of Hope. Funds have been cut back, from $52,000 to $19,000 for 2009, but Susan Beck, human services director, said money should be able to serve about 19 families.
Did not follow a recommendation to hire Karl Samp as a facilitator for a strategic planning process with a possible fee of $3,500. Thiede said the planning was important but he didn't feel an outside facilitator was needed.
Approved a facilities maintenance service agreement with Honeywell.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at renee. firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.