BACKUS—Incoming County Engineer Darrick Anderson reported township supervisors responded favorably to two meetings he held with them in the last month to offer jointly bidding for services. The meetings were held at Sylvan Town Hall and the land department building in Backus. Noxious weed control spraying seemed to be the most popular at both meetings, Anderson said. Many are concerned about spreading wild parsnip. It is a plant that causes severe itching and rash, described as much worse than poison ivy.
BACKUS—Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider introduced Mindy O'Brien, the new director of Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center at Bemidji, to the county board Tuesday. Cass is one of eight member counties represented on an executive board, which oversees the center. Courts sentence juvenile offenders to the center's secure and non-secure detention units. Human services and probation may refer anyone age 10 to 18 who has emotional problems to its residential treatment services.
BACKUS—Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson presented a report on the 2016 election process and outlined her proposals for future election equipment replacement. She also announced she plans to retire by 2019, and her deputy who specializes in elections, Shari Splichal, also intends to retire in the next five years. She suggested the board might begin looking for someone who has college training in election oversight management as a replacement for one or both of their positions.
BACKUS—Kevin Lee of Longville Ambulance Service reported to Cass County commissioners Tuesday that the service transported 239 patients in 2016, up from 213 in 2015. Longville's service is a branch of North Memorial Medical Ambulance Services. Revenue from clients and their insurance ran $406,672. Residents in that service area paid another $411,000 toward the service with their property taxes. Longville Ambulance had $700,388 in expenses in 2016, giving them a net margin of $2,352 or 0.3 percent.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has 1,200 citizen volunteers who monitor lake water and river clarity weekly each summer throughout the state. However, there are 12,000 lakes and 69,000 miles of rivers in the state. That leaves a huge need for a lot more volunteers. Among the lakes where MPCA's website map shows a need for new volunteers are Woman and Pleasant in Cass County and Sibley and Pelican in Crow Wing County. The Gull River at the Cass-Crow Wing county line also needs a volunteer.
WALKER—Jim Schneider, Cass County probation director, and Victor Moen, district supervisor for Minnesota Department of Corrections presented their reports on 2016 probation and supervised release programs. County probation oversees all juvenile cases and adults who have been convicted of gross misdemeanor traffic-related offenses and misdemeanors. State corrections oversee assaultive and other non-traffic gross misdemeanors and all felony probation or supervised release (formerly parole) cases.
WALKER—Steven White, Leech Lake Tribal Council member from District 3, presented a check for $2,500 from the council to Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch for the dive team during Tuesday's Cass County Board meeting. He thanked the sheriff for the dive team's and multiple law enforcement agencies' work to recover the body of Kenneth Gale, who drowned in Leech Lake last summer. Gale's brother and sister also expressed their appreciation.
WALKER—Whatever people leave on frozen lake ice in the winter ends up at the bottom of the lake the next summer. With this in mind, Cass County has tried a variety of approaches to get Eelpout Festival promoters over the last 37 years to clean up Leech Lake ice after the annual ice fishing festival and related partying. Environmental services and sheriff's department employees and Sentence to Service jail inmates have ended up helping promoters clean up after the event many years. Stuff left behind can include trash, garbage, human waste and old sofas.
WALKER—Cass County foreclosures continued to drop in 2016, while the number of arm's length property sales continued to rise, according to assessing department records. There were 37 property foreclosures in 2016, down 10 from 2015 and about one-third the number recorded in 2013. An arm's length property sale is one that is outside of a sale to family members, for instance.
WALKER — Incoming County Engineer Darrick Anderson obtained county board approval Tuesday for an updated bridge replacement priority list. Three new bridges have been installed on County State Aid Highway 1 since the last list was approved in 2013. Another on County Road 107 was installed in 2016. A Wabedo Township bridge is now underway. Next to be replaced from the 2013 list will be a bridge on County Road 129.