Cass County Board: Resident voices future bypass concerns

WALKER--Jim Tuller, Hackensack, appeared before Cass County Board Tuesday to give his personal concern about keeping Highway 371 running through his home city.

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WALKER-Jim Tuller, Hackensack, appeared before Cass County Board Tuesday to give his personal concern about keeping Highway 371 running through his home city.

He owned and operated Swanson's Bait in Hackensack for 22 years before selling it earlier this year.

He said he has seen Hackensack grow significantly the last 22 years and does not favor any state plan to run the divided highway north from Jenkins that would necessitate a bypass around Hackensack.

He named seven businesses that have expanded along Highway 371 or a block either side of it in the city. He said he would like the commissioners' support to keep the highway going through town to help continue the city's growth.

The board took no action on this issue Tuesday.


In other business:

Veterans Service Officer Jeff Woodford presented his annual report to the board.

He said the county's veteran population has declined each year since 2012 and is now at 3,266. Of those 75 percent are over age 65.

Total expenditures for compensation/pensions, education/vocational training and for medical services for Cass vets ran $28,742,000 in 2016.

Pensions and education expenses rose. Only medical costs declined in 2016. This can be a result of a few veterans who had high medical costs dying, he said.

In addition to federal funding, vets in Cass County received $62,278.92 from state soldiers assistance grants.

The veterans transportation program drove 249 veterans 54,754 miles to medical services in 2016.

The veteran service office had 105 appointments with people inquiring about veteran services at the Walker office, 511 at the Backus office, 46 at the Cass Lake satellite, 40 at Remer satellite and 28 at Pillager satellite. They fielded 2,061 phone calls during the year.


Cass's veteran services office will apply again for next year for a $12,500 state grant to benefit vets.

Land Commissioner Kirk Titus obtained board approval for the Ruffed Grouse Society to do maintenance work on the county's Mayo Creek, Snow Flea, Old Grade and Homebrook hunter walking trails.

The group will repair and paint gates, clean parking lots and provide new signage, he said.

The board approved purchasing a new pickup truck for the land department under the state contract. It will replace a 2005 truck with 104,000 miles on it.

Anderson Gravel had the lower of two bids at $10 per yard to win a contract to supply pit run gravel to repair a forest access road in Deerfield Township.

The National Forest Foundation obtained a $35,000 grant from Polaris, which Cass County can use to replace failing culverts under the Soo Line Trail.

The board approved exchanging 33-foot easements with Charles and Shirley Nelson in Birch Lake Township.

The exchange will give the Nelsons access across county land, while the county will get access over the Nelson property to nearly 1,000 acres of county administered land, Titus said. Each paid for their own land survey.


Environmental Services Director John Ringle obtained board approval to pay Crooked Lake Township $517 of their $4,079 total cost and Wilderness Park $1,051.35 of their $4,205.40 total cost for clean-up programs.

The local organizations provide labor, while the county pays a portion of disposal costs. This is not for garbage, but for items such as demolition waste, abandoned trailers, household hazardous materials and junk.

The board Tuesday received no comment by mail or at their meeting, so approved vacation of a portion of former County Highway 71, which was abandoned as a part of reconstructing that road. The site lies a short distance north of where County Highway 71 intersects with County Highway 6.

Heidi Tumberg, Health, Human and Veterans Services fiscal supervisor, reported that agency's expenditures ran about 2 percent under budget through June. Out-of-home child placement costs continued a trend so far this year with costs being significantly under budget due to fewer children being placed outside their own homes.

Cass County's WIC program is celebrating the national breastfeeding awareness week Aug. 1-7 and Minnesota Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August. Trained nurses at Cass's HHVS answer breastfeeding questions from any county resident in addition to WIC participants.

Anyone can contact Public Health Nurse Renee Lukkason at $218-547-1340, ext. 209 for more information.

Cass County Probation Department has been approved to receive up to $200,000 from Minnesota Department of Public Safety over the next two years to use to operate its pretrial release program.

The county board authorized paying the $17,500 budgeted to the Initiative Foundation for this year.

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