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Cass County Board: Jail administrator cites tighter scrutiny in jail inspection concerns

WALKER—Lt. Chris Thompson told the Cass County Board Tuesday some of the criticism the county received in its recent jail inspection reflect tighter scrutiny by a new Minnesota Department of Corrections inspector.

Some also reflect the fact Thompson is still updating some jail procedures since he assumed the jail administrator position in August 2016.

There were eight notations in which the county was found non-compliant and six concerns cited, he said.

Some of the non-compliance had to do with staff certificates for verifying updated medical training, such as CPR training. The inspector said these did not use specific enough language the DOC recognizes, he said.

Others included changing cleaning products to ones considered less hazardous or the need to provide a key safe, not just a drawer for storing keys, he said.

Another change, which is in progress, is improving software, so Cass can track cumulative days its inmates spend when boarded at other counties and in Cass's jail, so the 14-day limit can be noted when inmates are required to have a test for tuberculosis.

One upcoming concern, which likely will be costly, Thompson said, is Cass's jail automatic control system is about a 1965 vintage system, despite the fact the jail was built in the 1970s.

"We're buying repair parts on eBay at this point," he said. To replace the whole system will be costly, he predicted.

In other business:

Environmental Services Director John Ringle obtained board approval for Cass to participate with Crow Wing County to develop a One Watershed One Plan project for the Pine River Watershed area. Crow Wing will administer the plan.

Commissioner Jeff Peterson was selected to represent Cass on the joint planning committee.

This is the second One Watershed One Plan Cass County has agreed to participate in. Earlier Cass became the lead agency to develop a plan Hubbard County for a plan for Leech Lake Watershed.

The commissioners approved an agreement with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources whereby the county will receive $6,294 this winter and $6,294 again next winter to provide snowmobile safety enforcement.

Central Services Director Tim Richardson obtained board approval to spend up to $4,400 to have light filtering blinds installed in the county recorder's office to prevent glare. Window film installed this year did not correct the glare problem, he said.

Cass is seeking people interested in serving on county committees. Anyone interested should contact the administrator's office at 218-547-7419. Available positions are listed on the county website at Click on the Government tab for a list of committees with openings. A written application is required.

The board will make new appointments at the Jan. 2 regular meeting.

The commissioners approved an agreement to have Prairie Support Services of Walnut Grove provide guardianship/conservatorship services to indigent persons who are vulnerable due to mental illness, chemical dependency, mental retardation, traumatic brain injury or disability through Dec. 31, 2018.

They will be paid up to $40,000 at a $25 per hour rate for services, $15 per hour for travel time, plus the IRS mileage rate, a stipend for meals and a telephone long distance reimbursement.

Cass commissioners voted to support a Region 5 application for a MnDOT grant for regional transit planning.