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Email correspondence to be used to gauge commissioner support

Emails will be sent to commissioners asking for feedback if a third party requests a letter of support related to a grant application.

The Tuesday decision at the Crow Wing County Board meeting came in the aftermath of a recent committee session where commissioners were unable to come to consensus on a dollar limit. In that case, Community Services wasn’t included in a grant application because of time constraint between board meetings.

Administrator Tim Houle said an email will be sent to commissioners and if no one responds, the senior manager in question will proceed with a tentative letter of support for the grant request. The grant application will be included on the next board agenda. If one commissioner objects, the senior manager won’t proceed with the letter but will put the item on the agenda for discussion.

Houle noted commissioners should reply to staff and not talk to each other about the issue as it would be a violation of the state’s open meeting law. By emailing, Houle said it gives staff some maneuvering room to get grant money while retaining board oversight.

Houle said he wouldn’t let a large multi-million grant go forward this way but this is talking about smaller grants.

Commissioner Paul Thiede said in his heart of hearts he is skeptical of the way government works and doesn’t want this to be a path for last minute items people forget to get in before the deadline. Houle said he would be looking for those same patterns.

“It might frighten people greatly when your cynicism and mine line up,” Houle said.

In other business, the board:

Authorized an agreement between the county and the state for grant funding of $18,250 for boat and water enforcement effective from May to September.

Recognized the retirement of Gary Gruber from social services.

Renewed the airport property lease for three years where the county highway maintenance complex is along the road to French Rapids.

Approved replacement staffing for a public health nurse as Mary Burrell departs.

Approved new 2014 combination on-sale Sunday and off-sale license for The Woods, at the former Chap on County Highway 3 and The Birds Nest in Garrison. In addition, the board renewed the club on-sale liquor license for the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association.

Hired: Melonie Flaws as a technical/administrative specialist in the auditor-treasurer’s office; Melissa Peterson as a social worker; Jordan Clink and Brandon Clark as seasonal survey aides; Amber Taylor as a public health nurse; Andrew Olson as a seasonal engineering assistant; Corry Pekarek, Amber Nornberg and Rachel Deck as correctional officers.

Met in closed session with Tami Laska, human resources director, for labor negotiations.

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.
(218) 855-5852