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Cass County Board: County proposes changes in how brewery licenses are issued

The liquor ordinance proposal calls for the county to add the possibility of issuing on- and off-sale brewer taproom licenses in the same manner as it issues intoxicating liquor licenses.

BENA—Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane presented proposed amendments to the county's liquor ordinance Tuesday at the county board's regular meeting at Bena City Hall Tuesday night.

This was the first of five regular meetings on the third Tuesday of the month at remote locations around the county in the summer.

The liquor ordinance proposal calls for the county to add the possibility of issuing on- and off-sale brewer taproom licenses in the same manner as it issues intoxicating liquor licenses.

Cass' liquor licenses generally follow provisions for liquors sales in state statutes. The taproom licenses also would follow state law.

Cass proposes to issue licenses to people who brew less than 3,500 barrels of malt liquor annually. Off-sales could not exceed 750 barrels.

Cass County would require any brewing business proposing to offer on- and off-sales of malt liquor to have their private sewer system inspected to ensure it is adequate to handle both the manufacturing demands and the number of on-sale clients they expect to serve.

One Becker Township resident expressed an interest in opening a taproom later this year.

The board will host a second public hearing at the 6 p.m. June 19 regular meeting at Sylvan Town Hall, 12956 24th Ave. SW, Pillager, before considering adopting the liquor law changes.

In other action before the county board:

Jeri Seegmiller, social services and public health team leader, obtained county board approval to accept a settlement from Minnesota Department of Health for the county's appeal of previously denied fees for services for clients under Medicare.

Administrator Joshua Stevenson said the two settlements the board approved Tuesday are for appeals the county made for medical services rendered two years ago. The Minnesota Health Department has been understaffed, so appeals have been delayed extensively, he said.

The health department has offered the county 62 percent of the amount billed for these two cases. Stevenson said this is about the normal percentage likely to be approved if a state staff member had reviewed it, which is why he and Seegmiller recommended accepting it.

The amount originally billed for one case was $4,380.01. The other was for $2,560.01.

Now that the county board has accepted reducing the total from $6,940.02 down to $4,302.81, the appeal goes back to Minnesota Department of Health, where it is expected to be sent to Medicare for payment.

Pillager Schools and Cass County have entered into an agreement under which Sheriff Tom Burch will provide a deputy to work in and around the Pillager school for the 2018-19 school year. The school district will pay the county $55,158 to cover wages and benefits and vehicle maintenance and gasoline.

The county board declared May 20 to 26 Emergency Medical Week.

Probation Director Jim Schneider informed the board about work in which he has participated with the statewide Minnesota Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. It is an advisory body to the governor and legislators.

The committee has found Minnesota ranks top in the nation for out-of-home placement for American Indian children.

Since Cass County's highest non-white population is American Indian, Schneider has been pleased to learn Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will receive $60,000 to fund a youth commission, which the band plans to use for schools to work on improving this situation, Schneider explained.

The number statewide of non-white youth on probation has risen faster than the overall youth population, MJJAC research found.

It all starts with support from a child's family and the people children hang out with, Schneider said.

Land Commissioner Kirk Titus obtained board approval to allow Remer Chamber of Commerce to place a rest area pavilion on county-owned land north of the historic depot in that city along the Soo Line Recreational Trail.

The city hall, a museum and lending library are located in the old depot. Trail users and those who visit the depot will be able to picnic and rest at the pavilion. It is expected to open later this summer.

Stonemark Land Surveying had the lower of two bids to survey lines along county land in Poplar, Powers, Fairview and Pine River Townships for $21,745. Northern Engineering & Consulting had the lower bid to win the contract to survey in Blind Lake Township for $9,066.

Cass will distribute $1,720,189 this year from 2017 timber sales on land sales of tax forfeited land. That total is up 10 percent from 2016.

Of that, 30 percent will be reserved for reforestation, 20 percent will be spent on trails and $860,095 will be distributed to townships where the sales occurred. That amount has risen each of the last four years.

The board approved paying the first quarter contribution to Longville Ambulance District of $122,750 and the first half contribution to Kitchigami Library of $183,642.50.

Cass County earned $391,598.86 interest on investments through April this year, up from $254,942.34 in the same period of 2017. That is 40 percent of the amount budgeted for this year after 33 percent of the year.