WALKER—Preliminary reports indicate Cass County will exceed the $51,420 minimum required to qualify for state emergency assistance from the Sept. 20 windstorm that blew through Cass and Crow Wing counties. Those preliminary Cass County reports show Crow Wing Power sustained $45,000 in damage, city of Lake Shore, $10,000; Loon Lake Township, $5,000; and Fairview Township, $4,000, he said. Other township reports are pending. If approved, the state will reimburse the local electric utility and local governments 75 percent of their losses, he said.
WALKER — Mike Paulus gave the county board a report Tuesday on what Cass County Economic Development has accomplished in the last year since he took over as director of the nonprofit corporation. The EDC has worked with 52 businesses, he said. Startup and expanding businesses have added 80 new jobs. Businesses have raised $5,200,000 with help from the EDC. The EDC provided 445 hours of assistance to businesses, he said.
WALKER—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires counties to maintain a material safety data sheet on each product a county department uses in the course of its operation. Assistant Cass County Highway Engineer Kris Lyytinen brought to Tuesday's county board meeting a three-ring binder of all the data sheets for the highway department's over 100 items OSHA says must be maintained to meet its requirement. The book is about 6 inches thick. "We have to keep an up-to-date copy of this book for each highway garage," Lyytinen explained to the board.
Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 5, set the county's preliminary 2018 levy at $22,307,860 or 2.49 percent higher than the $21,766,554 levied for 2017. The county's tax rate will rise 1.71 percent at that dollar amount to 32.285, up from 31.742 this year. Cass County's citizen budget committee, composed of one appointed citizen representative from each commissioner district and Commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Dick Downham, recommended the levy amount after reviewing department head requests for 2018 and comparing those with 2017 revenues and expenses.
Fairview Township moved one step closer Tuesday, July 18, toward building a recreational trail to connect a trail in East Gull Lake with a trail under construction this year in Lake Shore. The Cass County Board approved contributing $180,000 toward design and engineering.
Work could begin in about a week to rebuild and repave Cass County State Aid Highway 77 in Lake Shore. Cass County commissioners on Thursday, July 6, accepted the lowest bid of eight submitted. It came from Tom's Backhoe Services Inc. at $5,323,114.14. The Lake Shore City Council approved the award earlier. The project still needs Minnesota Department of Transportation approval, which County Engineer Darrick Anderson said could take about two weeks.
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.
Lynnette Dirks, Support Within Reach Walker office representative, informed the Cass County Board earlier this month about an upcoming film and panel discussion being planned for teens age 13 and older April 26 and 27 in Hackensack. Support Within Reach is a sexual violence resource center. The two-night program will be presented at Bear Pause Theater. Doors will open at 5 p.m. The programs will begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Cass County now is looking at a 3.51 percent levy increase for 2017, down from the 4.9 percent higher preliminary levy the county board approved in September. The lower increase was made possible by the receipt of more grants for 2017 than originally confirmed, the wage savings for some offices sitting vacant for a time during employee turnover and some financial support from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
Cass County Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane reported the county is on track to bring in $1 million from the newly enacted transportation half-cent sales tax this year. This is the amount estimated that the tax could generate annually to help fund highway improvement projects over the next 10 years. It would be after the state deducts its costs to process the sales tax.