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Cass Board gives OK to contracts

WALKER — Mardi Harder, University of Minnesota extension service regional director, obtained county board approval Tuesday for a contract under which the county continues to provide a full-time 4-H coordinator and a part-time nutrition specialist.

The contract covers three years running from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2015. Under the contract, those employees will receive a 1 percent raise in 2013-14 and a 1.5 percent raise in 2014-15.

Current employees in the two positions plan to leave their jobs to return to school, Harder said.

Cass had 170 4-H club members in 2003, but membership declined to 85 in April 2007 when the county cut the 4-H coordinator position to half-time, Harder reported. Since the county restored the full-time position in 2007, 4-H membership has increased and is at 153 student members this year, she said.

The 4-H program also offers an after-school programs, which does not require participants to be club members, Harder said.

The extension nutrition educator helps promote healthy lifestyles for people with limited incomes, according to Harder. Between October 2010 and September 2011, the nutritionist counseled 33 families involving 101 people, she said. Additional educational programs were presented to students in schools and a group home.

Sites where presentations were offered included Pillager, Pine River, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and Northland Remer-Longville Elementary Schools; after school programs at Longville and Remer; Pillager and Walker Head Start (for parents); Little Sands Group Home at Remer; and Remer early childhood program.

Kelly Felton, Working Together Coalition, updated the county board on what that youth-centered program is doing.

A survey of students in the three participating school districts — Pine River, Remer and Walker — showed how students see their home, school and community as an asset or not in their lives. The Working Together Coalition provides adults in each of those communities opportunities to provide their support to students in areas where the students saw a need.

The adage that “it takes a community to raise a child” is a valid one, Felton said.

The coalition also provides Responsible Beverage Server Training to help owners and employees of businesses that serve alcohol to learn strategies to avoid selling illegally to under-age youth or intoxicated patrons. Eighteen businesses and civic groups attended the most recent session of that class.

Felton reported that 82 percent or all but five businesses passed recent compliance checks to ensure that Cass County businesses do not sell alcohol to under-age people.