BACKUS—Assessor Mark Peterson reported Tuesday to the county board sales of existing houses in the county are up about 6 percent this year over 2016. Through September, there were 803 arms-length property sales this year, compared with 756 last year. Foreclosures continued to decline. In the third quarter of 2017, there were six. This is down from seven in 2016 and 21 in 2014. Two homesteads were foreclosed this third quarter and four cabins or other residential. Four were valued below $100,000. Two were worth $100,000 to $400,000.
BACKUS—Drainage Ditch 9 could be put back to sleep for another 100 years. The Cass County Board Tuesday declined to abandon it after only 12 of 36 property owners along it signed the petition to abandon—and not enough of the signers were on a single leg of the ditch, so a portion could be abandoned. The county from 2017-2017 levied $30,000 from properties originally taxed to install the ditch in 1918.
BACKUS—Cass County Highway Department reported the county had $87,188.59 net receipts from the county's online auction of excess equipment this fall after $1,062.92 in advertising expenses were deducted. In other action: The county board Tuesday approved paying now the county's pledged $82,000 toward the multi-use recreational trail being installed in the city of Lake Shore this summer and next.
WALKER—Cass County will host a 6 p.m. public hearing Dec. 7 at the courthouse in Walker on the final proposed 2018 levy and budget. The citizen budget committee pared down departmental requests from the preliminary levy the board set in September to save $292,991. That committee found enough savings to allow increasing the amount proposed to be set aside for capital improvements from $75,000 to $170,000 in 2018, and recommended the county allocate $5,000 to University of Minnesota Extension to pay toward premiums paid to 4-H members who show at the county fair.
WALKER—The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to hire Thomas Burke as the county's new deputy health, human and veterans services deputy director. Burke was director of Aitkin County health and human services from May 27, 1997, to Dec. 2, 2016, according to the resume he presented to Cass County. He will serve as second in command under Director Michelle Piprude in Cass' HHVS.
WALKER—Environmental Services Director John Ringle obtained Cass County Board approval Tuesday to spend up to $9,608.20 to hire Pro-West & Associates to analyze what will be needed to enable people to apply for zoning permits online. Ringle said electronic permitting other counties use does not fit with the system Cass has for issuing permits. Each county has set up their own local permit tracking system, partly because each has a different mapping system, he said.
BACKUS—Cass County could install its first county road roundabout east of Pine River if the county's grant application to the Minnesota Department of Transportation is successful. The county board voted Tuesday to seek a Local Road Improvement grant from MnDOT to put the roundabout at the junction of county highways 1 and 44. The intersection currently is a four-way stop, with rumble strips and "Stop Ahead" indicators. Even as enhancements have been added, the intersection has had numerous serious crashes.
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.