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.
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.