Cass County Board: Board hears economic development updates

BACKUS--Mike Paulus, Cass County Economic Development director since October, made his first report Tuesday to the county board since the EDC board appointed him.

BACKUS-Mike Paulus, Cass County Economic Development director since October, made his first report Tuesday to the county board since the EDC board appointed him.

That non-profit agency has moved its offices from the land department building in Backus to the lower level of the courthouse in Walker. Its address is now P.O. Box 1606, Walker, MN, 56484. Paulus' phone number is 218-832-9147.

During his first two months on the job, Paulus helped one Pillager business successfully obtain $170,000 in capital investment funding and to hire one new employee.

In addition to assisting businesses wanting to move here or to expand, he also has been helping businesses do succession planning-either helping them transition to the next generation in their family or to find a buyer for their business to keep it going after they retire or move on to another enterprise.

He also has increased contract services through the Small Business Development Center. If all businesses he has worked with through Dec. 10 develop their projects, Paulus said it would mean 74 jobs will be created and over $8 million will be invested here.


The county board approved a $50,000 budgeted payment to Cass County EDC to assist with its operations for 2017.

Cass Sheriff's Department announced the retirement of Kerry Swenson, emergency management director. He was appointed to that position in 2003.

Administrator Joshua Stevenson said Swenson has done such a good job of developing emergency services plans for the county that the job has mainly become one of responding to emergencies.

Thus, the sheriff's department has named deputy Tim Norton to take over the emergency management duties in addition to working as a road deputy.

Stevenson said Norton likely will do emergency work full time when there is a major storm or other emergency event for a few weeks, then return to deputy work in between. There will be some public education meetings for him to conduct and emergency training to take to keep updated as well, Stevenson added.

The city of Lake Shore will pay Cass County $2,850 appraised value for .9 of an acre along the edge of county administered land for an easement for the planned recreational trail along County State Aid 77. The county land is at the south end of the trail in that city.

Tim Williamson, Minnesota DNR, informed the county board there will be a public hearing from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 1 at Trelipe Town Hall on the issue of whether the DNR should designate the new Centennial State Forest as limited use (allow restricted off highway vehicle use) or closed (not allow OHV use).

This is former Potlatch property.


There will be a 6:30 p.m. presentation during the event. The public can comment at the meeting or send comments to Williamson at 3296 State Park Road NE, Bemidji, MN, 56601 or call him at 218-308-2369 or 218-368-5884.

Comments also can be sent to Joel Lemberg at the DNR forestry office at P.O. Box 6, Backus, MN, 56435, or call him at 218-947-3232, extension 223 or 218-820-3141.

Commissioners Jeff Peterson and Neal Gaalswyk stated their views Tuesday that state parks like this one should be left open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping and other uses.

They also expressed their concerns over different DNR divisions advising their constituents differently about whether a particular state park was open or not to motorized uses.

The board voted to voluntarily recognize Law Enforcement Labor Services as the exclusive representative for sheriff's deputies, replacing Teamsters Local 320, which earlier withdrew its exclusive right to represent this group of employees.

The commissioners waived a mediation option and to proceed to arbitration on a grievance a health, human and veterans services employee filed to contest her employment separation. They also voted to hire Dyan Ebert, labor attorney in private practice, to represent the county in this case.

Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported the county earned $981,667.14 interest on investments in 2016 or $4,609.75 more than in 2015.

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