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Cass County foreclosures up slightly in 2013

WALKER — Cass County property foreclosures were up slightly in 2013 from 2012, but remain well below numbers in 2011 and 2010.

There were 95 foreclosures in 2013, 90 in 2012, 116 in 2011 and 164 in 2010. In the fourth quarter 2013, there were 17, compared with 13 in 2012, with all but two being for homestead or cabin residential properties. Eight were valued at under $100,000, three under $200,000 and four under $400,000. None were worth over $1 million. Fourth quarter foreclosures were mostly located from Pine River south.

Tuesday, the county board adopted five land reclassifications and received a report from environmental services department showing the planning commission in 2013 approved 76 variance applications and denied 11. The commission also approved 23 conditional use applications. One was withdrawn.

County Planner Paul Fairbanks said the planning commission will recommend the county board consider approving an amendment to the land use ordinance which would allow staff approval of additions to existing non-conforming buildings in cases where the addition would not increase the non-conformity.

This would be in cases where an addition might be added to the back or side of a building rather than toward the lake. In cases where the lot already is under sized for the amount of buildings on it or the addition is proposed closer to the lake, a variance still would be required.

Sheriff Tom Butch obtained board approval to sign an agreement with the Chippewa National Forest to provide up to $9,820.98 worth of law enforcement service within the forest this summer on routine patrol and at campgrounds and developed sites.

Actual costs for deputies at $26.06 per hour plus benefits for regular time, and $39.09 per hour plus benefits for overtime as well as 56.5 cents per mile mileage would be billed to the forest service.

Mary Tennis, who oversees the sentence to serve program, reported 113 male inmates participated in 2013. They worked off $14,501 in fines while working 230 days and completing an estimated $91,000 worth of work.

They put in 6,568 hours working for the county, 768 hours for Minnesota DNR, 1,552 hours for cities and 1,648 hours for non-profits.

The board authorized out of state travel for Deputy Ryan Fisher to attend a trauma medicine training program this month in Iowa where he will learn how law enforcement officers can use trauma treatment methods developed on battlefields. There is no charge to the county for training, lodging or meals.

Also approved for out of state travel is Dianne Poncelet’s request to attend training in May in Las Vegas, Nev., on computer forensic analysis, which she will use to assist the sheriff’s office. Ponceletworks in the county management information systems division of central services.

The usual cost for this type of training package is $5,000, according to Central Services Director Tim Richardson, but this conference will cost $1,600, including air fare, meals and room.

The commissioners set aside $25,000 in the 2014 budget for a special project available to the county’s family centers if they apply separately from their general allotment for it.

Tuesday, Pillager, Pine River-Backus and Northland (Remer-Longville) Family Centers made a joint application for that money to fund their home visiting program for first-time parents. It begins with prenatal home visits and continues visits through the child’s first three years.

Leslie Bouchonville, Pine River-Backus family center director, told the board other grants paid for the service the last seven years, but those grants have run out. Because the family centers have seen improved parenting with the program, they asked to use this special fund to continue offering the service.

She said the family centers will aggressively look to other funding sources for future years. The board approved the 2014 allotment.

Health, Human and Veterans Services finished 2013 by spending 84.6 percent of the year’s budget. Some of the savings came from the fact only 65 percent of expected county costs for the out of home placement program had to be spent.

The board referred to County Engineer David Enblom a request from May Township Board for assistance in helping them resolve differences with Meadowbrook Township over expenses for a shared road that divides the two towns.