PINE RIVER—Susan Wake, Cass County Extension Committee, presented the 2017 Cass County Farm Family of the Year award to Roy and Tamara Bell, owners of Bell's Rawhide Ranch at Tuesday's Cass County Board meeting. Roy Bell grew up on a rural Motley dairy farm not far from his present ranch. He attended Crookston Vo-Tech, where he was on the livestock judging team and was awarded the True Grit award as the student who actively participates and encourages others to participate in agricultural and animal sciences.
PINE RIVER—About a half a dozen of the 36 property owners who have been paying a special levy the last four years to clean County Ditch 9 appeared at Tuesday's county board meeting at Pine River City Hall to comment on whether the levy should continue. Under state regulations, the county can clean an existing ditch and remove beavers and beaver dams, but cannot completely rebuild a drainage ditch without hiring an engineering firm to design it. That boosts the cost significantly. So, the county chose four years ago to levy $30,000 to clean the ditch.
PINE RIVER—Cass County's state payment in lieu of taxes will decrease this year, because the value of state land in the county has decreased. Assessor Mark Peterson explained to the county board Tuesday, his office is required to reassess these state lands, upon which the PILT is based, every six years. Privately owned property is reappraised annually and regularly visited by county staff appraisers. The county, however, does not have enough employees to do on-site inspections of all the state lands.
WALKER—Cass County Board Tuesday removed all dollar amount references from the proposed ordinance for the management of public rights-of-way before approving a first reading. Those dollar amounts for a bond, fee or penalty will be set separately by county board resolution or state statute. The board set a second hearing and intent to adopt the ordinance for the 9 a.m. Sept. 5 regular meeting at the courthouse in Walker.
WALKER—Jim Tuller, Hackensack, appeared before Cass County Board Tuesday to give his personal concern about keeping Highway 371 running through his home city. He owned and operated Swanson's Bait in Hackensack for 22 years before selling it earlier this year. He said he has seen Hackensack grow significantly the last 22 years and does not favor any state plan to run the divided highway north from Jenkins that would necessitate a bypass around Hackensack.
WALKER—Four Republican state legislators who represent portions of Cass County appeared before the county board Tuesday to inform the board about measures they helped pass in 2017. Rep. Sandy Layman, District 5B, said, "We had an excellent session." She cited "a really good tax bill" and a transportation bill that was the largest plan to fund the state's transportation since 2008 without a gas tax increase.
WALKER—Cass County commissioners granted Jeff and Arby Snell an easement across county-administered tax-forfeited land Tuesday after hearing from several concerned neighbors. The easement is for an approach area where vegetation is limited gradually from about 30 feet high, then diminishes down to just inches to provide a clear area to meet state requirements for an approach to a landing strip at a private airport. Ray Olson built the private airport in the 1970s on the west shore of Webb Lake, east of Hackensack.
FAIRVIEW TOWNSHIP—Fairview Township moved one step closer Tuesday night toward building a recreational trail to connect one in East Gull Lake with one under construction this year in Lake Shore. Cass County Board approved contributing $180,000 toward design and engineering.
FAIRVIEW TOWNSHIP—Cass County issued 15.7 percent more zoning permits the first half of 2017 compared with 2016, according to Environmental Services Director John Ringle. The department issued 795 permits this year, up from 670 in 2016, Ringle told the Cass County Board Tuesday night at the board's regular meeting in Fairview Township. Zoning permit fees collected also were up 15 percent.
WALKER—Despite federal funding shifts to states and state shifts to counties, Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services current budget can handle the changes so far. Heidi Tumberg, HHVS fiscal supervisor, gave this view to Cass County Board Tuesday. She said future years could bring more impact from these funding shifts. Through May 31, the county's HHVS cash balance exceeded the first five months of 2016 by $211,000. The budget overall is running about 3 percent lower than 2017 budget expectations, Tumberg said.