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Koering announces he won't continue with transport service after contract expires

Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Koering said he won’t seek a renewal for his county contract to provide transport to the medical examiner’s office.

Before he was a candidate for office, Koering had a contract with the county to transport bodies to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office in St. Paul.

Koering said former Sheriff Dick Ross first asked him if he would provide the service as no one else would do it. After a short time with Brenny Funeral Services, the county returned to Koering for the transport services. Koering’s two-year contract is up at year’s end.

Koering said he wasn’t going to pursue the contract for a couple of reasons. He didn’t want to have the perception of a conflict of interest. And, Koering said, he has seen a lot of suicides and car crashes and just doesn’t want to see that anymore.

Koering plans to talk to the county administrator to see how the transport could be provided. Koering said the county will have to see how the sheriff wants to proceed but he wasn’t sure the county wanted to go back to how things were a few years ago. Commissioner Paul Thiede said he thought the board had to be careful not to bias the discussion and he assumes the county would ask for proposals for the service.

Some counties, such as Morrison and Pine, provide the service in-house. The administrator and sheriff are expected to talk about future options, which will be back before the board.

Thiede and Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said they didn’t see a conflict but understood Koering’s reasons for a change.

Koering commended the sheriff’s department for fine and professional work saying they have a lot of traumatic things they have to deal with.

In other business, the county is planning to phase out immunization from its public health and heard Tuesday research efforts are finding few people would be left behind with the discontinuance of immunizations.

The county approved entering a cost analysis pilot project with the state Department of Health for immunization, tuberculosis and international health, through June 30. The health department plans to pay the county $10,000 to learn about the county’s billing process before it changes how it handles immunization services.

In personnel actions, Community Services promotions were listed for Janelle DeSmith, case aide, and Kara Griffin, customer services supervisor. Sam Bedard and Katrina Wood were hired as a property assessors in training. Gail Oseland was hired as a financial worker.

Departures included correctional officers Mike Ittner and Kristina Chambers and Luke Simonett, employment and economic services manager. Staffing requisitions include interns for forestry, geographic information systems and a technical support intern.

Switched committee assignments with Nystrom taking the Extension Committee from Commissioner Rosemary Franzen while Franzen moves to the county’s transportation committee.

Approved a grant agreement with the state for snowmobile safety enforcement up to $7,928. And entered a grant agreement with the Department of Public Safety for reimbursement of expenses related to the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division for $33,775 for personnel, overtime, training expenses and confidential funds.

Set the timber sale auction for March 28.

Withdrew two land tracts in Dellwood Acres from the unsold tax-forfeited land sale list with the assessor listing justification to lower market values. One land tract had an estimated market value of $8,500 for 2013 and of $1,400 for 2014. The second had an estimated market value of $9,800 in 2013 and $3,600 in 2014.

Entered an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for Cuyuna Trail design. With the agreement, the DNR will pay the 20 percent match for federal funding for the early design on the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail project from Highway 31 in Crosby to the County Highway 10/Highway 6 intersection in Deerwood.

Entered a cost-share agreement with the city of Crosby for the County Highway 28 project.

Accepted donations of $430 for the Crow Wing County Mounted Patrol and $4,000 from the Adam Sellheim Memorial to the county dive team.

Approved renewal of a 2014 tobacco license for Varani’s, doing business as Checkered Flag, in Unorganized Territory.

Authorized Central Planes Aviation to conduct aerial spraying for army worm infestations in the county with conditions limiting hours of operation to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays except Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day. The business conducted spraying in 2013 without receiving any complaints.

Heard committee reports. Thiede said federal funding is diminishing for the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway meaning the group is dipping into reserves and its board is doing a good job looking at ways to find funds to continue.

Thiede said the state reports MNsure will have about a $3 million shortfall for this year and expects shortfalls to continue into 2016. He also reported the state is expecting revenues of $172 million above projections. Thiede said he guessed that meant a billion dollar tax increase must have worked. Thiede attended the Minnesota Inter-County Association discussion, which included concerns the economy could stall again in 2014. An indicator, Thiede said, the county needed to be aware of spending habits.

Appointed Darryl Skallet to the transit committee.

Began the session with a moment of silence for the late Brainerd Police Officer Mike Lambert and for Win Borden.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

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.
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