A proposal to connect Crow Wing State Park and the Soo Line Trail by creating a multi-use trail network encircling Camp Ripley is a step closer to becoming a reality.

The Crow Wing Board of Commissioners authorized entering a five-year memorandum of understanding between the Camp Ripley Veterans State Trail Committee, Minnesota Army National Guard and Camp Ripley to help establish the largest trail system in the nation.

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"Our intention is to hook up to Crow Wing State Park where the Paul Bunyan Trail comes to right now and then circle around through Pillager, come back to Randall and go that way," said Frank Gosiak, chair of the trail committee.

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Multi-use trail to connect regional trails into largest trail system in U.S.

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The proposed multi-use trail for bicycles, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, etc., will also link the Central Lakes State, Lake Wobegon Regional, Cuyuna Lakes State, Heartland State and Migizi trails into one continuous recreational trail system that would be the largest in America.

"Three commanders ago, we had Camp Ripley on board. They wanted to use land on the west bank and on the north bank to use for this trail. But as regimes change, the new commander came in and he was opposed to this, so we were shut down for five years," Gosiak explained.

"And now with another commander coming in-(Brig.) Gen. (Lowell) Kruse-he contacted us and said he's in favor of this, the state's in favor of this. We need to get going on it again."

The proposed routes run through the federally-designated Camp Ripley Sentinel

Landscape and portions of Morrison, Cass and Crow Wing counties.

"This large landscape necessitates a wide array of partnerships which encompass the complex diversity of landholding interests within the three-county project area," according to Gosiak.

"Our intention is to kind of lock Camp Ripley in with some kind of promise that they're not going to change when the next commander comes through because it's a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, and we need this property to really move the trail along well."

Gosiak told the board at its Tuesday, Aug. 14, meeting the memorandum of understanding was a "shake-the-hand"-type of an agreement between interested parties to proceed with the plan.

The memorandum was made between Camp Ripley and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Sylvan Township, Randall, Pillager, Baxter, Gosiak's trail committee, and Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties.

"We're all signing this memorandum of understanding that we're going to work together to complete this trail, and it's mainly to work with Camp Ripley. All the communities have signed it so far and all the counties pertaining (to the memorandum)," Gosiak said.

"It's really looking good right now. ... I've been on the committee for 10 years. ... In almost went through then when the Paul Bunyan Trail went through, but it was stopped by Morrison County. The commissioners were not on board then. They are now."

Commissioner Rosemary Franzen made the motion to authorize signing the memorandum of understanding, which was seconded by Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom and it passed.

In other business news, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Hannah Jude, community services social worker, and Heather Norman, sheriff's office 911 communications officer.

Approved the departure of Tonya Heldt, community services social worker,; Ashley Rystad, land services customer service specialist; Wendy Coward, sheriff's office records supervisor; and Jaime Krupa, community services income maintenance supervisor.

Accepted donations in the amount of $100 from Cuyuna Regional Medical Center to the county mounted patrol and $100 from Garrison Lions Club to the county dive team.

Supported the premises permit application of the American Legion Post 255 for a premises permit to be held at Raceway Square, Unorganized Territory.

Approved the new consumption and display permit application by Michael Scofield, Chef Mike's Catering LLC, Crow Wing Township.

Approved an amendment to the agreement for food and laundry services and equipment between the county jail and Summit Food Service through Jan. 31, 2019, which increases the prices approximately 2 percent for cost per meal based on varying numbers served.

Approved the new annual service agreement to have Tami Lueck represent social service on the Quality Advisory Review Consultation Committee.

Approved a budget amendment increase of $14,221 to the Community Services Fund due to additional grant funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services as part of the Child Protection Grant Allocation.

Authorized withdrawing tract from tax-forfeit list and authorized direct sale to city of Brainerd HRA for property described as "Lots 11 and 12, Block 6, Second Addition to Brainerd (09174006011Z009)" at the sale price of $1 to eliminate blight and develop affordable housing.

Authorized entering into a agreement between community services and Sourcewell for Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative's Regional Comprehensive Re-Entry Program through July 31, 2019. Sourcewell has awarded Region V+ Innovation funds for 2018 and 2019 in the amount of $287,000.

Authorized the use of the solid waste fund to abate the property at 10855 Bonnie Road in Brainerd in Unorganized Territory First Assessment and approved the bid of $5,200 by Hengel Ready Mix and Construction Inc. of Pillager to clean up the public health nuisance.

Approved a resolution that establishes the Sebie Lake Improvement District in an effort to reduce curly-leaf pondweed, a non-native invasive, submerged aquatic plant and improve water quality.