Weather Forecast


Hearing is set Sept. 10 for Cass land use ordinance

Cass County commissioners conducted their regular meeting Tuesday night at Becker Township Hall in the southwest corner of the county.

They set a Sept. 10 planning commission public hearing at the land department in Backus on proposed changes to the county land use ordinance. The time is tentatively set for 1 p.m., but exact time will depend upon the number of variances the commission will hear that morning.

Major changes to the ordinance focus on provisions for resorts and family compounds and on extractive uses (gravel pits). Other minor changes also are proposed.

Copies of the changes are available on the county website at and by calling the environmental services office at 218-547-7241.

Environmental Services Director John Ringle informed the county board Tuesday that Region 5 will administer a $20,000 grant available to low income Cass County residents who have failing private sewer systems that need to be updated.

Ringle said he envisions this as possibly about a $2,000 grant to couple with low income loans also available to help people pay the cost of a new sewer system. By applying the loan to a $6,000 to $7,000 project, he said, the cost of loan payments could be lowered, making those more affordable for people to repay.

Pairing the grants and loans also will enable to county to help more people, he added. People who need to replace their system can contact the environmental services office at the above phone number to see whether their income level will qualify.

After consulting with the county budget committee, Sheriff Tom Burch reported to the county board he has decided to decline acceptance of a COPS federal grant to hire two additional deputies.

Administrator Robert Yochum said the $250,000 three-year grant would require the county to match about $500,000 to pay the balance of salaries and to equip the additional deputies. It also requires the federal money to be spent only on officers who would do community policing.

The county would be required to pay the full cost for the new officers after the three-year grant period and retain them.

Burch said Cass has a greater need for additional investigative and court security services rather than general community policing. Adding one more officer for those needs would cost the county about $80,000 instead of $500,000 and could be paid from the existing levy without increasing taxes, he said.

Burch reported the George W. Neilson Foundation will pay Cass up to $13,500 to replace its K-9 police dog with a fully trained 2-year-old German shepherd dog from Performance Kennels of Buffalo.

The dog will cost $11,500, plus sales tax.

Yankee, the new dog, will replace Portos, who is now approaching 10 years old. The county board voted to transfer ownership of Portos from the county to his partner, Deputy Bill Connor, upon his Dec. 31 retirement.

Burch reported Birch Lake Township has donated $500 to the Lakes Area Dive Team.

Yochum reported the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry conducted an OSHA inspection of the courthouse, highway department and health, human and veterans services buildings in Walker July 18.

The county will pay a $1,960 reduced penalty for two violations found at the courthouse. There were no violations noted at the other two buildings.

The county closed two unused openings in the courthouse electrical panels Aug. 7 and conducted job safety training for central services staff Aug. 16 to make the county compliant.

The sheriff’s department reported 33 men were available for sentence to serve in the second quarter of 2012, with 24 completing the program that quarter. They worked off $2,723 in fines by working in the program.

Their work done at the equivalent of $8 per hour amounted to an estimated $20,500 market value. Daily crews averaged five people.

They put in 1,000 hours of work for the county, 520 hours for nonprofit agencies, 400 hours for cities, 304 hours for the DNR and 48 hours for other state agencies.

Kevin Lee of North Memorial Ambulance Service reported Longville Ambulance Service transported 111 patients the second quarter of 2012, up from 99 the same period 2011. The service continues to operate at about a 10 percent profit.

Lee said margins have remained steady, so he does not expect North Memorial to request any increases from Longville Ambulance Services taxing district in 2013.

The Longville service invested $72,300 in new equipment during the quarter for two new Lifepack 15 monitors, two automated vehicle locators (GPS-type units) and one Lucas automatic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation device.

Advanced life support staff worked every shift in the quarter, Lee said. Patient satisfaction score was 93.56, compared with a 92.47 national average.

Marsden Building Maintenance LLC was the lower of two bidders to clean the health, human and veterans services building for $2,305 per month or $50 less than the county’s current cleaning contract.

This includes burnishing floors four times a year and cleaning carpets annual, plus once more in high traffic areas.