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Crow Wing County approves lease with Nature Conservancy

It took a few weeks, but The Nature Conservancy and Crow Wing County have entered into a lease agreement for space in a county building.

The Nature Conservancy will move into about 113 square-feet of vacant office space in the basement of the Land Services building on Laurel Street, which is between the historic courthouse and the Law Enforcement Center in Brainerd.

The lease cost is $95 per month, including utilities.

In other business, the board:

Amended the ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses. Changes include moving a space definition from a business that devotes more than 40 square feet to a sexually oriented business to greater than 30 percent of total sales floor or more than 30 percent of total gross sales. This doesn’t apply to theaters, concert halls or art centers or museums. Other recommended changes put the onus on the business instead of earlier language of the licensee to restrict access to minors.

Commissioner Paul Koering said he was in favor of less regulation rather than more and wondered why the county needed the ordinance. Commissioner Paul Thiede said it was a matter of being preventive. Administrator Tim Houle noted other counties were having issues and it wasn’t about regulating content of speech but seeking to keep from clashing with other land uses such as distances from schools or churches that might find such speech offensive.

Allocated $7,500 for the county’s 50 percent share to replace a transit bus. The county is using an advancement on the appropriation set for 2015. The spending was moved up as a bus with a cracked frame was deemed unfit for use. The bus is expected to cost $75,000 with the state transit office picking up 80 percent of the cost. The remaining 20 percent is split between the county and Brainerd.

Koering questioned why the county had to levy tax dollars for it and fares weren’t enough to pay as in the cities. Houle said the county subsidizes as it covers larger distances with a smaller population.

Approved replacement hires of three correctional officers in the sheriff’s jail division, a deputy and two part-time deputies and a social worker or public health nurse.

New hires included Melissa Stuber, Community Services program coordinator; Jessica Sikkink, temporary survey aide in Land Services; Dana Kiel, assessor in training in Land Services; Tom Strack, forestry intern; Kelsey Ott, temporary scanning clerk in Land Services; Ross Trongard, Environmental Services intern; Rebecca George, geographic information system intern; Kyle Pusc, seasonal engineering assistant.

Promotions were reported for three in the sheriff’s department — Bren Smith and Matt Dixon for the boat and water division and Nate Augustine as a patrol deputy.

Departures included Ann Plaisance and Vickie Peterson, correctional officers; Randy Stanfield, part-time deputy; and Todd Hines, deputy.

Authorized an agreement with the state to house state offenders in the county jail at the daily rate of $55 along with reimbursement of medical and dental expenses through June 30, 2015. The state funding is limited to $1,010,000.

Thiede questioned a provision for providing appropriate winter clothing if an inmate is released between November and May. Sheriff Todd Dahl said getting winter clothing was normal procedure for released inmates who can’t be sent out in orange jump suits in 40 below weather. Thiede said just saying offender clothing was “dog-gone broad” and while he wasn’t saying to put them out naked but he didn’t want a snowmobile suit. He questioned if the offenders were taken out shopping before they are turned loose. No, Dahl said.

Received a $100 donation from the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center for the mounted patrol.

Awarded a seal-coating project contract to low-bidder ASTECH Corp. for $556,793 for County Highway 2 from South Koering Road to County Highway 45 and County Road 117 from Highway 371 to Highway 45 and various roads in Baxter and Breezy Point.

The engineer’s estimate was $538,615. The county’s contract amount is $211,028 with Baxter’s contract of $279,347 and Breezy Point’s contract of $66,418. Baxter also had two alternate bids of $4,482 and $31,560, which may be added. Work is expected to begin in June or July and be completed by Aug. 9.

Approved an agreement with the Initiative Foundation to sponsor a full-time Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) member in Community Services for a year, from Aug. 2, 2014 through Aug. 1, 2015. The cost is $2,500 for a VISTA position to help build a permanent way to “more effectively bring individuals, families and communities out of poverty.”

Entered a contract for chemical dependency assessments with the Focus Unit at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd. Contracts with other providers, Northern Pines Mental Health, Nystrom and Associates, Minnesota Teen Challenge and Avalon were approved in April.

Met in closed session for labor negotiations. The board then came back in open session and announced an agreement with the ONCE contract adding performance-based pay, reducing health care costs, aligning the highway workers uniform allowance with the Local 49 agreement of $400, included drug and alcohol testing after an incident with county equipment.

Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom was absent.

RENEE RICHARDSON 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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