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Cass County Board: Department heads receive positive reviews

WALKER—Cass County commissioners reported Tuesday, Nov. 6, all appointed department heads have achieved the requirements of their position in the last year.

This follows closed county board meetings Oct. 9 and 16 during which the commissioners met individually with each department head for a personnel review.

The department heads include Health, Human and Veterans Services Director Michele Piprude, County Assessor Mark Peterson, Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane, Environmental Services Director John Ringle, County Engineer Darrick Anderson, Land Commissioner Kirk Titus, Central Services Director Tim Richardson and County Administrator Joshua Stevenson.

In other business Tuesday, the county board:

Learned from Deep Portage Learning Center Director Dale Yerger 110 schools participated in educational programs at the center in the last year. He said the greatest challenge he had is finding enough employees for his 25- to 30-person staff.

Tuesday, the county board approved his request to pay 25 percent of the cost to install a new fire suppression system at Deep Portage. Total cost will be $101,195.

The current 18-year-old fire suppression system had a diesel leak and air compressor failure in mid-July. That resulted in a smoldering smoky incident to which the Hackensack Fire Department responded, Yerger said.

Though fire was prevented, the Deep Portage campus has been getting by with an electric Jockey pump since that time, which is not sufficient to handle a major fire at the center, he said.

Insurance will cover half of the new fire suppression system. The county's contribution and another 25 percent share from Deep Portage Foundation will pay the balance.

Approved a contract with Honeywell for $19,195 to replace the heating and cooling system controls on three units of the courthouse in Walker. This will be part of a phased shift from air driven (pneumatic) to electronic controls. These existing controls were installed in 2011.

Gave permission to Walker Legion Post No. 134 to submit a request to the Airwing in Duluth and the Federal Aviation Administration in Minneapolis to do a flyover during Cass County's 9-11 observation ceremony in September 2019. The ceremony is annually on the courthouse front lawn on Highway 371 in Walker.

Approved committing $150,000 to match Minnesota Department of Transportation funds to install a tunnel under Highway 371 south of Walker to make a safer highway crossing on the Shingobee Connection Trail portion of the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

The Jarmin Foundation, through the Walker Foundation, will also donate $15,000 to the tunnel if MnDOT approves the project.

Set a public hearing for the 10 a.m. Dec. 18 regular board meeting at the courthouse in Walker to consider a request for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to officially change the name on their records from Paquet Lake to Poquet Lake.

The lake is located just south of Hackensack. All street signs around it currently say Poquet. Fifteen people signed a petition to request the DNR official record change. A formal request from the county board will be required before the DNR considers approving it.

Authorized assessor Peterson to use some of $25,000 he budgeted in 2018 for a new vehicle for his department to instead purchase six small and one large new office printers for $6,050, plus shipping cost.

The balance will go back into the county general fund at year-end, he said. He upgraded his staff vehicles by accepting two used vehicles without cost to his department when the sheriff purchased new vehicles for deputies this year.

Referred to the planning commission a request from Barney McCoy to reclassify 20 acres of an 80-acre tract in Moose Lake Township from agriculture/forest to rural residential 20.

Approved a memorandum of agreement with Ron Siltman, owner of Harriet Club, to offer a new county recycling bin collection site on his property on Highway 84 in Barclay Township.

Approved a contract with RT Vision to provide an electronic time card system for the sheriff's office for $4,824, plus annual $504 maintenance. The Cass County Sheriff's Office is the last of the county's departments to switch from paper to electronic time cards.

Authorized Land Commissioner Kirk Titus to contract with Pro West and Associates of Walker to purchase an enhanced database for the county's forest management system for $14,411.88.

Approved an easement for Davin and Ann Rothering to continue to have a portion of their septic system overlap onto county land as long as the system continues to be compliant and functioning properly. The easement would end and the system have to be removed from county land at such time as it becomes non-compliant. They will pay an annual $109 easement fee.