WALKER—"Our STS (Sentence to Service) is thriving," Chief Deputy Erick Hoglund told the Cass County Board Tuesday, also noting several neighboring county STS programs have declined and closed. The program is designed to enable low-risk offenders to work on a deputy-supervised crew to work off fines or in place of jail time. Deputy Chad Emery, who supervises the crew, reported 73 male offenders joined the crew in 2017, with 71 completing the program. They worked off $2,300 worth of fines and in place of 171.1 days of jail time.
WALKER—Many a Cass County voter thought their mailed ballot was junk mail and threw it in the garbage. They thought they did not get a ballot, so ended up at the courthouse in Walker election night to vote in person. This was one factor leading to Cass County being one of the last to report election results to the state in 2016. Sharon Anderson, the county's newly appointed elections administrator, told the county board Tuesday she will begin public education outreach this year to prevent a repeat.
WALKER—Cass County Board adopted changes Tuesday to the countywide land use ordinance covering the process for obtaining land reclassification. Under changes the county began this summer, applicants now file their application with Environmental Services Department. When the application is complete, ESD refers it to the county board, which may require additional information and may refer the application for the planning commission to consider.
WALKER—The Cass County Board Tuesday set a public hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 6 at the courthouse in Walker for the highway department's Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan. The plan identifies 71 sites on county roads, largely in municipalities, where curbs impede accessibility for persons using a wheelchair and where access would be difficult for entering county buildings. Cass County Highway Department conducted a survey of county buildings and highways last June to identify sites where improvements need to be made.
WALKER—Cass County Board adopted a county buffer ordinance Tuesday to meet the newer state laws requiring a vegetative buffer between cultivated farm fields and waterways. For this county, it definitely is not the issue it has been for some southern Minnesota farmers. Not only did no one come to Cass's public hearing on the new ordinance, but also Environmental Services Director John Ringle said he does not believe anyone in the county has failed to comply with the ordinance before it was adopted. In other county business:
WALKER—Cass County commissioners elected Commissioner Bob Kangas as 2018 chair and Commissioner Scott Bruns as vice-chair Tuesday. They adopted the same rules of business for conducting county board meetings as they used in 2017. Those rules call for meeting 9 a.m. the first Tuesday each month at the courthouse in Walker and third Tuesday—January through April and October through December—at the land department building in Backus.
WALKER—Cass had 33 inspectors on 35 lakes at 40 public accesses checking boats for aquatic invasive species during the 2017 boating season, Cass AIS Program Director Rima Smith-Keprios told the Cass County Board Tuesday. In addition, Lake Shore Police Department conducted about 3,000 inspections and Cass County sheriff's deputies did 200.
WALKER—Reps. Sandy Layman and John Poston attended the Cass County Board meeting Tuesday to learn more about the county's concerns to take to the 2018 Minnesota Legislature. While the state made money available to build new recreational trails, Cass officials would like to see money designated for maintaining those trails. There currently is no state funding for overlaying or crack sealing on existing paved trails.
WALKER—Sheriff Tom Burch informed the Cass County Board Tuesday that the Minnesota Sheriff's Association recognized Cass County Deputy Eric Alger as the Minnesota Deputy of the Year. The Cass County Sheriff's Department nominated him for the award, which is based on sustained performance or actions over a sustained period of time that is above the average contribution to the betterment of the office and community.
WALKER—The Cass County Board Tuesday set the county's final 2018 levy at $22,307,860. That is 2.49 percent above the 2017 levy. The state requires the county to show the $503,000 levy for Longville Ambulance District in its total levy even though that is only collected from property owners in the ambulance service area. Without the ambulance levy, the amount levied for just county use will be $21,804,860 or 2.55 percent higher than the amount for the county share in 2017. Cass's tax rate in 2018 will be 31.836 percent.