WALKER—Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane reported to the county board she recommends the county continue using the state auditor's office for the immediate future until she can evaluate the quality of service private auditors provide other counties and costs. The state Legislature last year voted to enable counties to use private audit services instead of the state auditor.
WALKER—Sarah Smythe, income maintenance supervisor in Health, Human and Veterans Services Department, reported to Cass County Board Tuesday on recent increased caseloads. Income maintenance eligibility workers process applications and oversee active cases for families and single adults who seek financial assistance and medical assistance, plus those who need child care assistance or long term care. The implementation of MNsure medical care has contributed to some of this increase, she said.
WALKER—Sheriff Tom Burch obtained county board approval Tuesday to seek federal approval for a grant that would benefit the Chippewa National Forest and the county. A local Chippewa Resource Advisory Committee already has approved the concept. U.S. Department of Agriculture must give final approval. Burch is seeking at least $12,000 to enable the Sentence to Serve crew to eradicate invasive noxious weeds and manage vegetative cover within the Chippewa National Forest.
BACKUS—Lake Country Nordic Ski Club President Don Hoppe reported to Cass County commissioners Tuesday the club will have four groomers operating this winter. One groomer will be stationed at the trailhead of each of Cass' four grant-in-aid cross-country ski trails and will be housed in temporary containers for the first year. Hoppe said the long-term goal will be to build permanent buildings to house the groomers. The ski club has maintained the four ski trails for four years and now has about 45 members.
BACKUS—Cass County Board voted Tuesday to authorize Chairman Jeff Peterson to sign a resolution to declare the county in a state of emergency from the July 21 windstorm. That declaration will enable the county to seek state and federal disaster funds. Emergency Services Director Kerry Swenson reported the county will partner with the Leech Lake Band to seek disaster relief. So far, the county has tallied $60,000 in public infrastructure losses and the band, $67,000.
BACKUS—Jeff Woodford, Cass County Veterans Services officer, presented the state's annual report to the county board Tuesday, showing the number of Cass veterans and pensions paid to them declined slightly from 2014 to 2015. There were 3,311 veterans in Cass in 2015, compared with 3,355 in 2014. Compensation and pensions declined from $14,183,000 paid in 2014 to $13,912,000 in 2015. Educational and vocational training benefits declined from $395,000 in 2014 to $304,000 in 2015.
BACKUS—Cass County Board Tuesday approved changes to the county land use ordinance to permit people to add guest quarters or a guest cabin up to 700 square feet on their property as long as they can meet setback, sewer size and other requirements. These and other changes will take effect 30 days from publication in the county's official newspaper or about five weeks.
WALKER—Lower oil prices this year means Cass County's major state aid road paving package will run $1 million less than it would have cost last year.
PINE RIVER — Cass County's Farm Family of the Year is the Kuschel family. They own and operate Rocking K Ranch, southwest of Pine River. Susan Wake represented the University of Minnesota Extension Cass County Committee in presenting the award to the Kuschels Tuesday night at the Cass County Board meeting in the Ansel Town Hall. When Morris Kuschel sent money home to his wife while he served in World War II, he instructed her to buy food or land. Stella planted a garden and began buying land.
PINE RIVER—Zoning permit activity is nearly flat so far this year compared with 2015, Environmental Services Director John Ringle informed the county board Tuesday. Land use zoning permits for new building construction and new sewer systems is up slightly, but applications for variances and shoreland alterations are down some. There were no new minor subdivisions or plats the first quarter this year and only one plat last year.