Cass County Board: Retiring officials recognized, work honored
BACKUS—Two retiring top Cass County officials praised the quality of each other's work as they were honored at Tuesday's county board meeting.
Association of Minnesota Counties has selected Reno Wells for an AMC Outstanding Service Award and will recognize him at the Dec. 5 annual AMC banquet.
Wells turned over directorship of Cass Health, Human and Veterans Services to Interim Director Michele Piprude earlier this month. He was nominated for the AMC award by Jamie Richter, Cass public health nursing director. AMC cited Wells' "exceptional leadership, participation and service to Minnesota counties and the association."
Cass commissioners congratulated him and thanked him for his service to the county.
They also recognized and thanked Robert Yochum, who has been the county's only administrator and will retire after 20 years next Monday. The commissioners presented him with a certificate of appreciation and a Cass County logo clock. Wells said his success as HHVS director was made much easier by the mentoring Yochum provided for him.
"It takes good staff to make you look good," Yochum responded.
"The success of the (re-elected) commissioners in (this month's) elections also reflects the job you have done," Board Chair Jeff Peterson said, praising Yochum.
In other business Tuesday, Kevin Lee, North Memorial Health Care provider for Longville Ambulance District, reported the district served 195 patients during the first three quarters this year. That is up from 165 last year.
The ambulance service had higher revenue and lower expenses through September than expected by the budget.
Administrator-designate Joshua Stevenson reported the county and city of Longville are in negotiations to write an agreement they hope will satisfy the Federal Aviation Administration's objections to the ambulance building being on Longville Airport land.
The Federal Aviation Administration has threatened to withhold any further grant money to Longville Airport, because the ambulance service on airport land and does not pay rent.
The county-city plan would be for the county to pay the city to rent the land. The city then would pay the county an equal amount to rent the portion of the building being used as an airport terminal.
The commissioners extended their contract with Dr. Michael McGee for medical examiner services through 2017. Cass will pay $250 monthly salary, plus $2,000 for each complete forensic autopsy with toxicology or $1,000 for each external examination with toxicology. If McGee or his medical examiner employees have to appear in court, they will be paid $300 per hour, including travel time.
Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane reported most of the property tax payers whose property taxes will rise more than 10 percent for 2017 are those who made improvements or additions to their property this year.
About 57 percent likely will see some increase less than 10 percent, she said. About 29 percent will get a reduction.
Norikane obtained board approval for a written county purchasing policy, which follows existing practices. Having a written policy enables the county to continue receiving federal money for county projects.
The commissioners approved contracting with Franz J. Vancura and Brown, Krueger and Vancura PA of Long Prairie to serve as animal control hearing officer.
The hearing officer hears appeals from owners of dogs whose dogs have been declared "dangerous" or "potentially dangerous."
Cass County will participate for a second year in a five-county program. Cass's cost will be $11,154.78 in 2017.
A National Joint Powers Alliance employee coordinates contracting services for group home
residents to whom the county provides social services and for adult mental health services.
Participating counties are the same as those in Region 5: Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. The NJPA employee began by setting up service spreadsheets for each client the counties serve and rate charts for service providers serving those clients.
Michele Piprude, Cass HHVS interim director, said the NJPA system is not only more efficient, but also has enabled any participating county to learn more about and share services with other member counties.
County Engineer David Enblom obtained board approval to borrow in 2017 against 2018 state aid money to do construction projects on county state aid highways 20, 23 and 77 in 2017.
The state does not charge counties interest when they borrow ahead on state aid allocations.
Schrupp Excavating submitted the lowest quote to provide 80 yards of taconite tailings on a forest access road in Pine River Township for $20 per yard. Four county timber sales will use that road in the next year.
James Adrian submitted the low bid to remove asbestos and other regulated material from four recently tax forfeited parcels for $1,850. Two buildings are located in Cass Lake and one, each in Pine River and Hackensack.
Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported the county received $871,516.19 interest on investments through October this year, up from $847,627.05 last year.