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No problems found in evaluations of Cass department heads

WALKER — Cass County Board membersreported Thursday that performance evaluations they conducted in closed session Nov. 29 with all appointed department heads found that each official has achieved the requirements of their position in the last year.

Persons evaluated included Administrator Robert Yochum, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson, Central Services Director Tim Richardson, Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson, Environmental Services Director John Ringle, Assessor Mark Peterson, Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe, County Engineer David Enblom and Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Reno Wells.

Kerry Swenson, emergency services director, reported to the board that installation of components for the switch to the new ARMER radio system is in process and should be complete by late January. The dispatch center will move into a new updated area this week at the law enforcement center. New mobile radios with improved capability are being installed in sheriff’s and area fire department vehicles.

The board authorized the sheriff and highway department to sell their old radios, which are being phased out. County Engineer David Enblom said he expects to have about 30 radios available to sell, which would cost $800 new and are selling on E-Bay for at least $200 used.

Enblom said many departments around the country and in Minnesota still will use the type of equipment Cass is phasing out, so likely will bid on them. The highway department will sell antennas and other components, which should bring the county more than the $200 being paid for radios alone, he said.

The board authorized Enblom to purchase a new gasoline fueling system from low bidder Independent Petroleum for $11,185.50 for fueling county gasoline-powered vehicles at the highway garage in Walker. The system does not support diesel fuel.

He said the new system will have enhanced computer reporting capabilities, enabling the highway department to automate assigning charges to each county department and vehicles within those departments. The current fueling system has reached a stage where frequent repairs have been necessary, he added.

Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Reno Wells reported that department expended $13,614,939 through October this year or 71 percent of budget after 83.33 percent of the year. He also reported 68 percent of the budget $2,480,500 or $1,676,111 was spent for out of home child placements after 83.33 percent of the year. The county paid portion of those costs ran $1,386,988, with the balanced paid by federal grants and parents of children placed in group homes, correctional facilities or foster care.

Angels of St. Agnes Church in Walker donated $1,500 of business gift cards to the county for distribution to those in need for the holidays.

Veterans Services Officer Kathy Ramos reported her office served 640 veterans through September this year. The new veterans benefit specialist recently hired to fill a vacancy under Ramos will have his office located in the social services section of the land department building at Backus, she said.

The veterans transportation program drives about 15 to 20 veterans per month to medical appointments, logging over 4,000 miles per month.

Health Services Supervisor Jamie Richter informed the board health services has set a strategic plan to prevent disease, prepare for emergencies and to protect and promote public health.

The plan calls for renewed focus on decreasing high-risk pregnancies (with a special aim to decrease teen pregnancies), to increase child immunizations, to reduce obesity and to consider whether it would benefit the county to seek formal accreditation.

Central Services Director Tim Richardson obtained board approval to sign a new contract with the state for monthly network services that will improve the county’s Internet speed for connecting with state computer databases.

Increasing the connection speed from 4.5 Mega bits per second to 100 Mbps will increase the county’s cost from $900 per month to $1,700 per month. This increase is included in the county’s proposed 2012 budget.

Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson obtained board approval to add specialized software to the electronic time card system the county implemented this year for $2,500, plus $85 per employee for annual support.

Anderson said the electronic time cards have worked very well.

Cass will receive a $212,196 dividend from workers compensation and a $237,245 dividend from property casualty from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust multi-county insurance program in which the county participates.