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Cass County Board: Commissioners authorize bat study in Hackensack, Remer

This Evening Bat was caught in early July at the Minnesota Army National Guard’s Training Site in Arden Hills. Researchers from the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and Central Lakes College were conducting a survey as part of the three-year project to study summer breeding habits of the state’s forest bats. MnDNR File Photo

BACKUS—Cass County commissioners authorized a six-person research team to study on county managed land where and in what type of trees bats roost at sites near Hackensack and Remer.

Minnesota DNR, University of Minnesota Duluth, the Natural Resource Research Institute and the U.S. Forest Service will conduct the study.

Researchers will net bats, band their wings with transmitters. They then track the bats to roosting trees, mark those trees, then subsequently study the trees to identify similarities. They also will count the number of bats leaving each roost.

Their main focus will be on long eared bats, which recently were place on the endangered species list due to death in winter hibernating areas from white nose syndrome.

In other business:

The board unanimously approved joining with Crow Wing County for a Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources One Watershed One Plan study of the Pine River Watershed.

"I want to be sure we're not giving away our authority to another county by coming in under them," Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk said, expressing his concerns about the arrangement.

Cass already has applied to participate with Hubbard County in a study of Leech Lake Watershed, but there, Cass is the lead agency.

The board approved a Minnesota DNR plan to purchase from another state authority a cedar swamp area in Salem Township to be preserved as a northern white cedar stand.

The 340 acres currently are listed as school state trust land and are part of the Mud-Goose wildlife management area. The county and township will continue to receive the same payments in lieu of taxes as presently being paid for that tax exempt property.

This preserved cedar stand is designed to offset cedars being cut in another area to clear for the Great Northern (electric) Transmission Line. Settlement dollars from the transmission line project will be used for the purchase.

Perry Loegering, DNR, told the board northern white cedar regeneration is one of the least known forestry processes, so it is important to retain as many existing cedars as possible. Salem Township approved the transfer to DNR earlier.

Holmvig Excavating submitted the low $3,178 bid to grade the Old Grade forest access trail. Sawyer Timber submitted the lowest bid at $1,150 to grade the Bungo/Moose Lake trail, at $750 to grade the Deerfield trail and at $825 to grade the Bull Moose trail.

The Old Grade trail involves hauling in additional gravel.

Young Excavating submitted the lowest bid of six at $146,043.79 to install the new utility lines to the new fire hall, ambulance and county garage buildings at Remer. Those are under construction. The lines also will serve city hall.

Acting as the town board for the unorganized area, the commissioners approved paying the township share of the new Remer Fire Hall at $6,211.25. The city and other townships that fire service covers will pay the balance.

Schrupp Excavating won a contract to add gravel to one group of unpaved roads for $169,611.80. Swenson Aggregate and Construction won the contract to add gravel to another group of roads for $92,334.10. Theirs were the lowest of three bids received for each project.

Cass adds gravel to roads receiving chloride dust control treatment each summer. All treated roads carry 100 or more vehicles per day.

Traffic Marking had the lower of two bids received to win the contract at $68,421.56 for lane striping on paved roads.

Leech Lake Reservation donated $19,650 worth of equipment to be located at the Cass County Sheriff's dispatch center.

This will enable the National Weather Service to automatically activate up to 50 severe warning sirens in Cass whenever a tornado warning is issued. The system has manual backup.

Chippewa National Forest will pay up to $9,700 for Cass deputies to patrol that national forest from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2017.

Wilkinson Township donated $250 to Lakes Area Dive Team.

Cass has received a $12,625 state of Minnesota Federal Supplemental Boating and Safety Patrol grant.

The county paid $25,902.44 from its state aquatic invasive species prevention grant so far this year for enforcement and inspections, community awareness advertising and the inspection training program.

U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs has issued notice of the final 30-day appeal period for Leech Lake Reservation's intent to place the former Antler's Ridge property in trust for the benefit of the band. The property includes about 89 acres.

Cass Health Human and Veterans Services reported 2016 year end totals, showing their revenues exceeded budget projections, and expenditures came in lower than expected. Year-end totals are coming in later than in prior years, because the county switched from cash accounting to accrual.

HHVS 2016 revenues ran $14,663,919. That is $585,000 more than budgeted or 104.16 percent of the budgeted amount.

HHVS expenditures ran $13,579,435. That is 92.83 percent of budget or $1,049,000 less than expected. Over half of the savings came from vacancies during employee turnover and from lower pay as some veteran workers retired and new employees were paid less for having less experience.

Out of home child placement costs ran close to budget projections, being $2,491,088. That is three-tenths of one percent or $7,378 over budget.

The county's share of those costs ran $2,156,605 or about 2.6 percent less than budget expectations. Parents of children placed outside their homes and a small amount of federal reimbursement pays the remaining balance.

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