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Cass HHVS annual report released

BACKUS — Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services (HHVS) converted to electronic records in 2013, moved more employees closer to the public and cross-trained social services and public health employees so they can take applications for either service.

These are some of the highlights HHVS Director Reno Wells cited in presenting his 2013 annual report to the county board Tuesday.

Wells said over 10,000 files have been scanned into the department’s computer system. All new applications are entered directly into the computer, reducing turnaround time to process applications, he added.

HHVS now offers all services from offices in Backus as well as Walker. Wells said he is working toward an agreement with Leech Lake Reservation, with a goal to have county HHVS staff offices in the tribal government building at Cass Lake as well.

The social services/health services integrated intake has led to better understanding of how programs interrelate and has better informed each participating employee about the full spectrum of services the agency offers, Wells said.

It made applying for services easier, because one employee can process multiple application forms to access several services for one client.

It also earned the department a Minnesota Association of Counties 2013 Achievement Award.

Cass County HHVS received $15,613,148 revenue in 2013 and paid vendors $13,325,078. Local property taxes paid for $5,869,234 of the budget, with state and federal money and fees for some services paying the balance.

Wells reported the county will have two fully certified veterans service officers (VSO) for the first time about 20 years when the department’s assistant VSO completes his training this summer.

VSO Jeff Woodford joined the county in February 2013 as assistant VSO and was promoted to VSO in June. He served in the Army National Guard, including a stint in Iraq as a field medic from September 2005 through July 2007. He left the military in 2011 with a rank of sergeant (E-5).

Assistant VSO Stephen Sether has been in the Army National Guard and currently serves in the Minnesota Air National Guard with a rank of staff sergeant (E-5). He served in Afghanistan from May to November 2012. Both VSOs are college graduates.

Commissioner Jim Dowson said he really appreciates the annual reports department heads have been presenting this year, because it helps him better explain to the public the services the county offers.

“It’s an excellent tool. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be getting these annual reports to show what we are doing,” he said.

Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk also expressed his appreciation. Looking at the HHVS report, he said, “This really does reflect the people in our community.”

In other HHVS business Tuesday, the board awarded a certificate of appreciation to Tim Crawford who will retire April 25 after over 20 years services to the county as a social worker. The board authorized filling his vacant position.

The board authorized increasing the fee for child and teen checkups from $264 to $300 and the fee for early childhood screening from $388 to $397 as recommended by the HHVS advisory board. The last fee increase for these services was in June 2012.