WALKER—Lt. Chris Thompson told the Cass County Board Tuesday some of the criticism the county received in its recent jail inspection reflect tighter scrutiny by a new Minnesota Department of Corrections inspector. Some also reflect the fact Thompson is still updating some jail procedures since he assumed the jail administrator position in August 2016. There were eight notations in which the county was found non-compliant and six concerns cited, he said.
WALKER—Former County Attorney Christopher Strandlie, now a Minnesota district court judge, on Thursday swore into office his successor, Ben Lindstrom, during the regular Cass County Board meeting at the courthouse in Walker. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Strandlie a judge this fall. The county board advertised for a replacement county attorney to serve until the November 2018 elections. The county board hosted interviews, then selected Lindstrom for the position last month.
WALKER—Ben Thuringer from Madden's on Gull Lake was the only resident to attend Cass County's truth in taxation public hearing Thursday on the county's proposed 2018 budget and levy. He noted the resort's taxes again are proposed to rise, though it appears much of this year's increase will be due to school district taxes. He also visited with assessor Mark Peterson about the property's valuation.
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.