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Bargaining units agree to performance-based pay

Crow Wing County reached a tentative agreement with one of its employee groups to move it to a performance-based pay plan.

The announcement came after the board met in a closed session for labor negotiations with Tami Laska, human resources director.

The board authorized entering into the agreement with the Organization of Non-Contract Employees, known as the ONCE group, with supervisors and leadership positions. The contract is effective from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013.

The board authorized a second tentative agreement to move to new pay ranges contingent upon satisfactory performance and away from step increases from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013.

Was introduced to Reid Thiesse, new facilities manager.

Supported applying for funds though the Local Road Improvement Program for improvements to intersections on the County Highway 11 corridor and the intersection of County Highway 3 and 36 and County Road 103.

Provided a summary of the performance evaluation for Beth Wilms, community services director, which was a subject of a Dec. 27 closed meeting. In a written summary, which the county is required to provide, Wilms was recognized for her leadership, her focus on operational improvements and customer service, including the addition of the information desk in the Community Services Building. Goals for the coming year included identifying strategies to address high-need customers and seeking more opportunities for community and employee engagement.

Established a $50 per diem plus expenses for committee appointments.

Noted Susanne Hinrichs was hired as the new regional Extension director and Jim Carlson’s last day was Tuesday.

Awarded the 2012 printing and publishing bid to the combined bid of the Brainerd Dispatch, Lake Country Echo and Crosby-Ironton Courier at $9.45 per column inch for daily publication and $11.56 per column inch on Sundays. The combined bid has been unchanged since 2007.

The Newshopper was awarded the second publication of the financial statement. In the county staff recommendation to the board it was noted the Newshopper had a lower line rate by $1.70 per column inch but the combined bid, which has a paid subscription, is more likely to be read and would reach most of the county’s residents by a substantial margin, with three times the market coverage.

Circulation data was done by an independent third party. The county reported spending $68,751 on the combined bid for 2011 with legal notices and employment ads.

As in past years, the commissioners noted the changing aspects of technology and online information and whether it needed to publish what it is currently required to by law.

Commissioner Rosemary Franzen said while technology is great there are still people who don’t have computers and the county needs to be sure they have an ability to get the information.

Commissioner Paul Thiede disagreed, saying he didn’t believe there was a responsibility to make sure everyone reads legal notices, adding people read now just to see whose home was being foreclosed. Thiede said the idea of having one source of information was archaic. For about $50,000, Commissioner Phil Trusty said he thought the number of people reading legal notices was small and besides the county website, the county put up a printed notice in the historic courthouse. Chairman Doug Houge said maybe next year, the county will have more options besides the printing requirements.

Legal notices are available online with the county, but Administrator Tim Houle said there isn’t a high volume at the county website with about 3,000 people or less throughout the year looking at those notices, including staff.

Dispatch Publisher Tim Bogenschutz said times are changing but there are still 25,000 to 35,000 people reading the newspaper everyday and there are 48,000 to 52,000 page views for legal notices online each year between the Dispatch and Lake Country Echo.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852