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Cass County Board: Storm damage prompts emergency declaration in Cass County

Commissioners passed a resolution for an emergency declaration for the May 12 storm that passed through Cass County.

Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Cass County Courthouse in Walker.
Brainerd Dispatch
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PILLAGER — Cass County commissioners declared an emergency based on damage incurred during the May 12 derecho storm.

Commissioners made the declaration during the first meeting of their annual road show for the summer, with the first stop Tuesday, May 17, at Pillager City Hall. The meeting opened with County Administrator Josh Stevenson adjusting the agenda to include a resolution for an emergency declaration.

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The county determined approximately $65,000 worth of damage so far from the storm, Stevenson said, but Emergency Management Coordinator Chad Emery was still reaching out to area townships, public entities and power companies to determine the full impact. For the county to receive money from the state or federal government, the damage estimate needs to be higher, Stevenson said, but the county only has 30 days from the date of event to pass the resolution. Emery said he felt the deadline may be missed if the commissioners wait until their next regular board meeting.

Stevenson said the emergency declaration would not cover personal property damage and he was not sure what the total amount would have to be to include personal property. Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk made the motion to pass the resolution with Commissioner Scott Bruns seconding, and it was approved unanimously.

Commissioners on Tuesday also heard from Kevin Lee, ambulance services manager for North Memorial Health, who presented the first quarter Longville ambulance report. Sixty-seven patients were billed versus a budgeted amount of 61 patients. Lee said revenue was unfavorable due to increased revenue deductions and the timing of write-offs. First quarter expenses, however, were favorable to the budgeted amounts.

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Due to widespread staffing issues, Lee said they started a resident emergency medical technician program where North Memorial Health pays for people to attend classes in exchange for one year of service as an EMT. The organization reaching out to high school students in area schools, who can attend classes online a couple nights a week during the program.

That’s followed by hands-on skills training at the Baxter location, with candidates going on calls about halfway through the training. North Memorial Health will offer three classes per year in the summer, fall and spring. Anyone interested in more information or to register for the program may call Lee.

Included in Tuesday’s meeting agenda was Lynne Harrington, representing Deep Portage Foundation, who shared the history of Deep Portage Learning Center. This history included dates of when the memorial forest was established, when Deep Portage Conservation Foundation was organized and the various construction phases.

Harrington noted during the construction of the resources heritage center, the design of the roof was flawed. In 2000, the original shake roofing was replaced with shingles, and in 2011, an investment of $200,000 was made for a flat roof, increased insulation and ventilation/duct work replacement. Neither of these investments helped improve the ice dam issues, she said.

Recently, a notice requesting bids for a reroof project was published with bids due by Tuesday, May 24, Harrington said. She asked for a motion to reconvene the Deep Portage committee of the board to discuss the bids and bring a recommendation back to the county board at the June 7 meeting. Commissioner Jeff Peterson made a motion with Gaalswyk seconding and it was approved unanimously.

In other business, the county board:

Adopted a resolution establishing the withholding for reforestation and trails prior to the tax forfeit distribution in the amount of 30% for reforestation and 20% for trails.

Adopted a resolution to continue the master partnership contract with Minnesota Department of Transportation from July 1 to June 30, 2027.

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Awarded a contract to Anderson Brothers Construction Co. in the amount of $1,428,444 for work on County Highway 40 for reclaiming and paving as well as construction of a new right turn lane at the intersection of County Highway 40 and Highway 371.

Awarded a contract to JH Lawn Solutions in the amount of $30,003 for the herbicide application program.

The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting, 9 a.m. June 7 at the boardroom in the courthouse annex in Walker; the annual planning work session, 9 a.m. June 10 at Deep Portage Learning Center, 2197 Nature Center Drive NW, Hackensack; AMC District 2 meeting, 8 a.m. June 15 at Beltrami County Board Room, 701 Minnesota Ave. NW, Suite 102, Bemidji; and commissioner’s board meeting, 6 p.m. June 21 at Wilson Township Townhall, 3990 16th Ave. SW, Pine River.

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