Weather Forecast


Cass County Board: Sewer connection between Backus and Pine River almost done

BACKUS — Lee Bundy, Pine River Area Sanitary District facilities manager, reported to Cass County Board Tuesday the 55,000 feet of lines to connect the Backus sanitary sewer system to Pine River Treatment Plant are nearly completely done.

Installing the new line is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget, he said.

Backus has a 42-year agreement with Pine River to send its sewage to Pine River. With a 40-foot elevation drop between Backus and Pine River, the line has been installed as a gravity-feed line without the need to add pumping stations along the way, according to Bundy.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at Backus City Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 22.

He also reported the Pine River Area Sanitary District has accrued enough fund balance for system improvements currently proposed for the treatment facility at Pine River, allowing the project to be funded by cash on hand rather than having to borrow money.

Kevin Lee reported Tuesday the number of ambulance runs in the Longville Ambulance District has risen during the first three quarters of this year. The service transported 200 people to hospitals so far this year, compared with 169 last year.

This increased revenues, so the service had a 22.9 percent margin of income over costs, compared with a budgeted 10.1 percent margin, Lee said. Though the service is licensed for part-time advanced life support, it was able to provide a paramedic every day in the third quarter.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe reported the county’s share of property taxes to be levied in 2014 will see 57 percent of taxpayers having less than a 10 percent rise in their taxes, the same percent as increased in 2013.

Another 38 percent will see a tax reduction in county taxes, compared with 34 percent seeing reductions in 2013. Only five percent of taxpayers will see more than a 10 percent rise in property taxes in 2014, compared with 9 percent in 2013.

Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson obtained county board approval to award a contract to the lower of two bidders, Outing Sand and Gravel, to complete an all-terrain vehicle trail for Over the Hills Gang ATV Club between Sunset Hill Road and an existing forest access road on county administered land in Crooked Lake Township for $6,250.

The commissioners approved continuing for five years to jointly seek bids with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for such projects as aerial seeding.

They awarded a contract to the lower of two bidders, Lawrence Valuation Services, to appraise land the county hopes to buy if a state grant is approved to cover purchase costs. Lawrence will appraise a parcel in Deerfield Township for $2,300, one in Turtle Lake Township for $2,200 and one in Woodrow Township for $2,300.

Stevenson reported the county sold all 15 tracts offered at an October 31 timber sale for $162,027.87. Aspen sold below this year’s average of around $21 per cord at $15.58 per cord.

Spruce drew the highest bids at $18.60 per cord. The lowest prices paid were between $9 and $10 a cord for ash, balsam fir, bur oak, balsam poplar and basswood.

Jeff Woodford, Cass veterans services officer, reported the assistant veterans services officer will complete his training to become fully certified next June.

The office assisted 31 veterans in the Backus office in October; 13 in the Walker office; two at satellites in Remer and Pillager; and made four visits to veterans’ homes. Staff answered 44 phone calls from veterans in October.

Woodford said the veterans transportation program ran at budget through September. There were 37 veterans who used the service in October to go 8,042 miles to mainly medical services.

He said he is not seeing very many veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars seeking medical services from the veterans administration here even though they are eligible for five years of health care after their service.

The Minnesota regional veterans office was keeping up on its claims processing to approve disabilities more quickly than some other regions, so some of the other regions’ cases were shifted to this state’s office for processing. That slowed progress for local vets, Woodford said.

Currently, the backlog runs three to seven months here, he said, noting it is more difficult to verify claims for vets from older wars when less detailed records were kept on medical incidents during a war than is the case today, he said.

Kelly Felton of the Working Together Coalition informed the board that agency offered 11 responsible beverage server training classes for 147 employees and owners of businesses which sell alcoholic beverages in 2013.

Working with health, human and veterans services and the sheriff’s office, the coalition hired trained teenagers to attempt to purchase alcohol from 32 businesses in the county this year. Only one business failed the test and sold to the teen, Felton said.

She said the success rate of businesses passing the test has risen annually since the training programs began. The county board Tuesday approved $5,266 for the program.

The sheriff’s office reported 31 men participated in Sentence to Serve the third quarter of 2013, working off $3,611 in fines. Work crews averaged about six men a day. They worked a total of 3,120 hours.

Portage Lake Association donated $25 to the sheriff’s office toward the cost of printing aquatic invasive species cards for boaters.

Cass received $34,448 in October and will qualify for the same amount in April 2014 from a state SCORE grant to help defray county recycling costs. Administrator Robert Yochum said the volume of solid waste county residents recycle help qualify the county for the grant.

Daniel and Michelle Piprude have petitioned to annex to the city of Walker property they own adjacent to the former Ah-Gwah-Ching property.

Cass County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Director Gail Leverson reported five new businesses started the process of developing their plans into reality with help from EDC in October.

Leverson currently is working with 23 businesses which hope to open new businesses or add to existing ones. They potentially could add 143 new jobs and spend up to $11,280,000 in new investment if all are completed.