Impact of closed wood plant seen
WALKER — Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson informed the board Tuesday that Cass saw the first impact of closing the Sartell wood processing plant in the Sept. 27 county timber auction.
For the first time in a long time, four of the 10 tracts offered for sale failed to draw a buyer. One of those who did buy a logging plot later declined to execute the purchase, Stevenson said.
Those loggers who have markets did bid competitively, however, he said, noting that aspen sold for $27.48 per cord.
There are a lot of logs sitting on landings right now, Stevenson said. He plans to continue offering county timber at monthly auctions, adding he expects the wood surplus to go down over the next six months.
The plant at Sartell had been processing about as much wood as Cass County offers for sale in a year before the plant burned, then closed, Stevenson said.
As an alternate revenue sources for the county, Stevenson noted he plans a second county land sale this year. Lots on the first sale sold well, he said.
County Engineer David Enblom obtained board approval to proceed with a storm water outfall project to divert water from the Hazel Avenue area in Pillager to the river through a sediment pond.
Douglas-Kerr Underground of Mora was the lowest of five bidders at $328,308.90. A sidewalk will be installed on one side of Hazel Avenue as a part of the project in an area where school children are expected to use it.
Cass County will offer three 2,000 gallon diesel fuel tanks for sale to the public. These tanks currently are located at county highway garages at Walker, Cass Lake and Remer.
Those garages heat with propane. The highway department switched this year from fueling county vehicles at those garages to using fleet cards. Enblom said he expects to convert heating systems in the remaining county garages from fuel oil to propane within the next year and expects to sell additional diesel oil tanks next year.
The board awarded Cass’s propane heating contract Tuesday to low bidder Lakes Gas Company, based in Forest Lake, for $95,648.20. The county expects to use 52,000 gallons delivered by transport truck and 35,800 gallons delivered by short truck to its office facilities in Walker and Backus; land department shop at Backus; about half of the county garages in cities around the county; Longville Ambulance Service building; and Deep Portage Conservation Reserve.
Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe told the board he expects to see the county save $43,000 on heating costs at the courthouse this winter with the conversion from oil to propane. That will offset within two and a half years the cost for moving an 18,000 gallon propane tank from Ah-Gwah-Ching to the courthouse and converting the boilers, he said.
Lakes’ per gallon bid was $1.069 per gallon for propane delivered by transport truck and $1.119 per gallon for propane delivered by short truck.