BACKUS—Just when people thought traffic disruptions were over on Highway 371 north of Brainerd with the new four-lane segment open, word began to circulate about a Highway 371 closure from Backus to Hackensack. In February, Cass County commissioners approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to allow County Highway 40 to be used as part of a detour around Highway 371 from Backus to Hackensack.
WALKER—The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to participate in one state program, but to delay action until its March 20 meeting on another, because commissioners Scott Bruns and Dick Downham were absent from Tuesday's meeting. Cass County Economic Development Director Mike Paulus informed the board about a new federal program the state will administer.
WALKER—Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider and Minnesota Department of Corrections District Supervisor Victor Moen presented their annual reports to the Cass County Board Tuesday. Schneider's office oversees people on probation who are juveniles or who are adults convicted of driving while intoxicated, traffic gross misdemeanors and misdemeanor offenses. Moen's office oversees adults who have committed felonies and non-traffic gross misdemeanors or who are on supervised released from prison (formerly called parole).
WALKER — Assessor Mark Peterson reported Tuesday to the county board the number of property foreclosures in 2017 was 30. That was down from 37 in 2016 and half the number of properties foreclosed in 2014. Two were commercial properties. Twelve were homesteads. Sixteen were cabins. Five were located on lakes. Two-thirds were valued under $100,000, but one was worth over $1 million. Peterson also reported the number of arms-length property sales in 2017 finally is moving closer to pre-recession levels, with 1,110 sold.
WALKER—Woodrow Township Board Chair Myles Wagner asked the Cass County Board to call a moratorium on new cellphone towers in the county during Tuesday's commissioners' meeting. The county commissioners did not call a moratorium. They did request the planning commission review and recommend any changes needed to the county land use ordinance section on telecommunications towers. If the commission does recommend changes, a public hearing before the commission and a second public hearing before the county board would be before the changes are enacted.
BACKUS—Cass County Planning Director Paul Fairbanks reported Tuesday to the county board that 1,105 land use zoning permits issued in 2017 topped the 974 issued in 2016. Those permits are for new building construction, building additions and new private sewer systems. Applicants paid the county $320,860.44 for their permits in 2017, compared with $280,711.58 in 2016. Permit revenue primarily pays for on-site inspections and application processing.
BACKUS—Cass County Board approved a resolution Tuesday calling for the Minnesota Legislature to fund "regional behavioral health crisis program facilities and permanent supportive housing for people with behavioral health needs." Michelle Piprude, Cass Health, Human and Veterans Services director, said the goal would be to see the state provide group homes and adult foster care for people with behavioral mental health issues.
BACKUS—Cass County will receive $135,635 from the state toward purchasing new voting equipment before this fall's elections, Election Administrator Sharon Anderson reported Tuesday to the county board. This will cover about 30 percent of the total cost she expects the new equipment to run, she said. The county will pay the balance. The Legislature approved a $7 million fund in 2017 for this purpose. If all the voting equipment in the state were replaced in one year, she said it has been estimated to cost about $28 million.
WALKER—While the city of Walker supports Cass County's current plan to stay in the city's downtown for the foreseeable future, the city would like to see some development take place at Ah-Gwah-Ching soon. The county bought a major portion of the former state nursing home property for $1 from the state with the understanding it would be used for government services and health care. At that time, Essential Health was considering a critical care hospital for the site.
WALKER—Cass County commissioners Tuesday approved a 10-year contract with K.R. Drenth Trucking Inc. to operate the county's garbage and recycling disposal program. The county has always owned its primary transfer station buildings north of Pine River with a contract operator to operate the program. KRD has been the most recent operator. It accepts garbage, recyclables and hazardous waste weekdays and Saturday mornings.