WALKER—Cass County commissioners got their first look Tuesday at the proposed capital improvement plan for the next five years. They will host a public hearing at their 9 a.m. June 5 meeting at the courthouse in Walker before adopting a final plan. Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane informed the board Cass had $15,093,689 in the capital projects fund at the beginning of this year.
WALKER—Cass County Board will host a public hearing at the 6 p.m. May 15 regular board meeting at Bena City Hall, 38 County Road 8 in Bena, on a proposal to amend the county liquor ordinance to allow on- and off-sale licenses for breweries with taprooms. There are some Cass breweries and taprooms within cities under those cities' ordinances. This will be the first time the county would be able to consider issuing a license to brewers outside cities.
WALKER—Brig. Gen. Lowell Kruse, the new senior commander of Camp Ripley, introduced himself to the Cass County Board Tuesday. He described himself as a former North Dakota dairy farmer who sold all his cows when he was deployed for one year to Iraq. When he returned, he made the military his career. Kruse presented Camp Ripley's annual report to the commissioners, noting Ripley employs 500 uniform personnel and 300 civilians on its 53,000-acre campus between Brainerd and Little Falls.
BACKUS—Associate Dean of Extension and Minnesota 4-H Director Dorothy McCargo Freeman recognized Cass County Extension 4-H Program Coordinator Nic Podoll with an award for courage and innovation. Podoll expanded the county's 4-H participation by 61 percent in the last year, adding 120 new youth to 4-H programs in Cass by adding after-school 4-H programs. The state goal is a 10 percent annual increase.
BACKUS—Cass County Land Department received slightly less than half its revenue in 2017 from timber sales and extensions and spent around 20 percent of outgoing money on salaries and staff to manage county-owned and tax-forfeited land. Land Commissioner Kirk Titus presented his annual report to the county board Tuesday. Total revenue in 2017 was $4,248,648. Of that, $2,098,296 came from timber sales and extension fees for more time to cut timber. Cass sold 57,326 cords of wood stumpage in 71 tracts on 2,985.6 acres at monthly sales to loggers in 2017.
BACKUS—Cass County Board selected Jessica Manifold as the new Environmental Services Department assistant director. Manifold holds a bachelor of science degree in public affairs with a major in environmental science and management. She worked for two years on a program to maintain compliance with environmental programs and regulations within Denali National Park in Alaska.
BACKUS—Cass County Elections Administrator Sharon Anderson obtained county board approval Tuesday to purchase 34 new vote tabulators and one central vote counter for $264,923. A state grant will pay for $91,375 of the total cost. The remaining $173,548 will come from the county's capital projects fund. Still to be purchased as a part of the county's election equipment upgrade will be assisted voting machines, which Anderson expects will cost around $110,000. The model Anderson plans to buy is not yet available in Minnesota, she said.
WALKER—The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute continues to rank Cass County as third from the bottom of Minnesota's 87 counties on a health rankings scale they have computed for the last nine years. Renee Lukkason, Cass health team leader, said some improvements can be made by the county's health services, but others cannot. "It's more than just what public health can do," she said. Public health does routinely work to discourage smoking and drug and alcohol use, to reduce obesity and to help diabetics monitor their glucose levels, she said.
WALKER—Cass County has a screening team to evaluate whether a reasonable effort has been made to keep children in their own homes before they are ordered into out-of-home placements. That team also selects what it believes is the best placement for each child when that does become necessary. They screen children who will be held outside their own home for 30 days or more.
WALKER—Sheriff Tom Burch introduced his newest deputy to the county board Tuesday before presenting his annual report. Aftyn Wildes earned a law enforcement degree from Mankato State University and worked for Pike Bay Township Police Department in northern Cass County before recently joining the sheriff's department. Burch said the sheriff's department will expand from eight hours per week to full-time the deputy assignment for Pillager School District. The school district's requested the change will pay for the additional time the officer works there.