BACKUS—Cass County will inspect boats for aquatic invasive species on 75 days in the county in 2016, up from 72 days in 2015. Rima Smith-Keprios, county AIS coordinator, and Environmental Services Director John Ringle told the county board Tuesday inspectors found 230 boaters had failed to remove drain plugs when transporting their boats between lakes in 2015. That represents a 2.4 percent violation rate, but is less than the 4 percent statewide violation rate.
WALKER — Cass County Board elected Jeff Peterson chair for 2016 and Dick Downham vice-chair during the board's first meeting of the year Tuesday. The commissioners will hold their first meeting each month on the first Tuesday, beginning at 9 a.m. All meetings will be held at the courthouse in Walker with the exception of election days, Aug. 2 (primary) and Nov. 1 (general), which will be held at the land department building in Backus. Second meetings each month will begin at 9 a.m. the third Tuesday from January through April
WALKER — On a split vote, Cass County commissioners Tuesday decided against taking any position on the controversial Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposal to stock muskies in Gull Lake. Kevin Egan appeared before the board to ask the commissioners to pass a resolution asking the DNR to study the issue for two more years before making a decision. He said without support for a delay, the DNR is expected to make a decision this month or next month. Egan told the board the issue has strong proponents and opponents. A survey of Gull Lake Property Owners Association sent to 1,600 property owners drew 468 responses, 70 percent of whom oppose Muskie stocking of Gull, while 22 percent favor it and 8 percent are neutral, Egan said. He described Gull as a recreation lake rather than a fishing destination lake. He also said he believes inviting fishing tournaments by stocking Muskies will increase risk of bringing aquatic invasive species to the lake. Lake property owners take on the financial responsibility when AIS does spread to a lake, he added. Gull already has zebra mussels. There already are Muskies in 30 Cass County lakes, Egan said. The Association of Cass County Lakes notes in a letter to the DNR there are greater implications when stocking a chain of lakes versus a single lake. It also cites the fact there already are Muskie tournaments on other Cass County lakes, which draw participants from throughout the country and have a potential for bringing AIS unless there is intensive screening of boats and equipment. Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk, who has studied the Gull area controversy, suggested Cass commissioners could take one of three actions: Do nothing; refer the issue to Cass's Natural Resource Committee for a recommendation; or approve a resolution calling for the DNR to delay its decision for two years. Gaalswyk made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bob Kangas, to refer the issue to Cass County Natural Resource Committee. The motion failed when Commissioners Scott Bruns, Dick Downham and Jeff Peterson voted against it. This led to the board taking the no action option.
WALKER — Minnesota Sen. Tom Saxhaug and Reps. Tom Anzelc and John Persell attended Tuesday's Cass County Board meeting to discuss issues likely to come before the Legislature this year. County officials presented the legislators with a packet of information on legislative concerns the board adopted earlier and reflecting some of the Association of Minnesota Counties positions Cass supports. Cass Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Reno Wells and the county board
WALKER — Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch obtained county board approval Tuesday to sign a contract with Morrison County to board 15 Cass County prisoners per day at the jail for $50 per day per bed. The six-month contract is renewable. Burch said Cass has been boarding 15 prisoners per day since last July at Morrison when it had space available. The contract will require Cass to pay for 15 beds a day, but also will ensure Cass will have 15 Morrison beds open for Cass prisoners.
WALKER — Jaimee Meyer, the new Cass County Economic Development Director, introduced herself to the Cass County Board Tuesday. The board approved a renewed service agreement with the EDC for the county to continue paying EDC $42,500 for services through 2016 and to consider extending payments to EDC through the remaining four years of the agreement when the county considers its 2017 budget. Also approved was a lease through 2020 of one office at the courthouse in Walker and one
WALKER—Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson obtained Cass County Board approval to include an informational newsletter with property tax statements again this year. Topics taxpayers should watch for this year include information about how county tax dollars are spent, planning for how the county will spend the new half-cent transportation sales tax, 2016 road construction projects and key 2016 election dates. Tuesday, the commissioners requested adding information about up-coming key personnel retirements, the impact state emphasis on child safety will have on county child protection serv
WALKER—Cass County commissioners Tuesday adopted a final 2016 levy and budget, a capital equipment list and set salaries for elected officials. The final levy will include a 4.19 percent increase from 2015, as presented at the Dec. 1 public hearing. That is down from the preliminary levy set in September, which was 6.4 percent higher than 2015. The levy includes $20,182,969 for county operations, which is levied against all county properties and $846,057 for Longville Ambulance Service, which is levied only against properties in the ambulance service district.
WALKER—Cass County commissioners adopted a timetable Tuesday to begin the process to seek a replacement for retiring County Administrator Robert Yochum. Cass County created its administrator position in 1996. Yochum has been the only person to fill the position during the intervening 20 years. The county will advertise for a new administrator from Jan. 10 to Feb. 12. Department interviews with candidates may be conducted following the board's regular Jan. 19 meeting. Following the board's Feb.
WALKER—Minnesota Department of Transportation has recognized Cass County and Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd for a county highway improvement project as "Best of Its Class in 2015." The county and Anderson Brothers received the recognition during a recent Minnesota Asphalt Association conference. Anderson Brothers held the rebuilding and paving contract for a section of County State Aid Highway 1 the county widened and had repaved between CSAH 24 and County Road 114. The county did the design work.