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Crow Wing County Board: Data mining eyed as intel tool

During Tuesday's meeting of the Crow Wing County Board, Houle talked about an initiative to mine data community services has to discover patterns in large data sets. This would involve methods such as machine learning, statistics and database systems. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration

Information out there about Crow Wing County residents could be used someday soon to improve county services, according to County Administrator Tim Houle.

During Tuesday's meeting of the Crow Wing County Board, Houle talked about an initiative to mine data community services has to discover patterns in large data sets. This would involve methods such as machine learning, statistics and database systems.

"As you can imagine, they have 'oodles and oodles and oodles' of data, and we're trying to mine that data to make better use of it," Houle told the board.

Houle gave the board an example of someone on Medical Assistance who was coming up on the renewal for his paperwork.

"Oftentimes that might be an elderly person who, you know, gets confused about the process for that renewal," Houle said.

"We wanted to run a report showing who was going to be falling off Medical Assistance, so if that social worker was going out there, they would know that and they might be able to help the elderly person with filling out their paperwork."

Data mining is not new. Amazon and Facebook, for example, have been using information about their customers and users to make connections and even predictions based on past actions—gaining insight into the habits, choices and preferences of people.

"If the social worker didn't know it, (the elderly person) would fall off of Medical Assistance ... and so then we had to reinitiate the process of getting them eligible for Medical Assistance—a terrible waste of staff time and disruptive for the elderly person," Houle said.

Houle told the county board data mining would improve customer service by the county, reduce the county's costs or make the county's processes more efficient.

"That big data is not unique to community services. The sheriff's office has tons and tons of information in its law enforcement systems. ... Administrative services has a lot of information in its work order system, both for facilities and for IT," Houle said.

"And so that is sort of the next, I think, significant initiative we will be doing is trying to bring that training in house, so that we have the skills to mine that data embedded within each of our business units ... sort it, screen it, manipulate it to make it useful for us."

Commissioner Paul Thiede was absent Tuesday.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the promotion of Rhonda Christman, community services probation agent.

Approved the hiring of Amanda Rugroden, financial worker, community services, Anna Backberg, case aide, community services, and Paul Peterson, part-time deputy, sheriff's office.

Accepted the departures of Katie Yaunick, accounting technician, administrative services, Samantha Hess, technical/administrative specialist, community services, and Deb Ellis, accounting supervisor, community services.

Approved a resolution for quit claim deed to Jody G. Stewart for property in the county after she made full payment of $8,000 to Crow Wing County Community Services.

Approved entering into a grant agreement between the county and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety-Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division for the sheriff's office bomb squad, effective throughout next year. The $77,125 grant will be used for the purchase of bomb squad equipment, training and the bomb squad building lease.

Approved a budget amendment increase of $38,582 to the sheriff's budget for new compact mini-PCs and monitors for the new squad room stations.

Approved scheduling a public hearing for 9:15 a.m. Dec. 26 to consider adopting the 2018 Crow Wing County fee schedules.

Approved a supporting application by the Minnesota Lawful Gambling Application for an off-site permit of the Ducks Unlimited Frozen North on Dec. 16 at The Lonesome Pine Restaurant and Bar in Bay Lake.

Approved authorizing the county administrator to advertise for sealed bids for all legal printing and publishing for Crow Wing County to be received until 10 a.m. on Dec. 6.

Authorized the county highway department to enter into a cost-share agreement with Jenkins for a County Road 145 feasibility study at a cost of $15,000 to the county. The study will determine cost estimates, impacts and challenges associated with reconstructing County Road 145 from Veterans Street to the east connection with County Highway 16.

Approved a final payment for county highways 11 and 16 to Anderson Brothers Construction Co. of Brainerd for the amount of $1,822,545.40.

Approved granting a private ingress/egress easement of 33 feet to John and Lillian Rankin crossing over tax-forfeited land in Mission Township.

Approved authorizing the direct sale of a tax-forfeited property to Breezy Point Estates to an adjoining landowner for $10,900.

Approved authorizing withdrawing tracts from the unsold tax-forfeited land sale list to be re-assessed and re-offered at the fall 2017 auction.

Approved the sale of lands forfeited to the state for non-payment of taxes, and the approved 2017 final fall tax-forfeited land sale list includes lands classified as non-conservation to be sold for not less than the appraised value at public sale at 10 a.m. Dec. 1.

Authorized the continuation of the Lower South Long Lake Lake Improvement District for another five-year period, pursuant to Crow Wing County policies.

Approved the appointment of Robyn Wolfe to replace Jim Hunter as the city of Crosby representative on the Serpent Lake Sanitary Sewer District Board of Directors for a term expiring Dec. 31, 2018.

Approved the appointment of Mary Koep to replace Lucy Nesheim as the County Commissioner District 3 representative on the Community Health Services Advisory Committee for a term expiring Jan. 31, 2019.

Considered nominating one Crow Wing County commissioner to the National Joint Powers Alliance Board of Directors to represent Sub-Region IV for a four-year term.

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