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Cass County Board: Changing demographics leads to more ambulance runs

WALKER—Changing demographics have had a big impact in increasing ambulance service runs in the Longville area, according to Kevin Lee, North Memorial Health Services, which operates the Longville Ambulance Service.

He told Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 4, the impact is not only apparent at Longville, but throughout North Memorial's service area in Minnesota.

People are aging as the baby boomers hit retirement age. Many are retiring to their cabins. They need more medical services as they age, he said.

Longville Ambulance transported 108 people to hospitals the first half of 2017. That number jumped to 145 the first half this year. Higher transport numbers also brought the service more revenue and a 16.2 percent profit margin where the budget had only anticipated 10.7 percent, Lee said.

In other county board action:

Elections Administrator Sharon Anderson reported Cass County had 29.2 percent voter turnout during the recent primary election, compared with 28 percent statewide.

Cass mailed-ballot precincts had a 37.9 percent turnout rate, compared with 25.8 percent where people went to their precinct office to vote in person, she added.

Electronic voter registers were well received by local election judges, she said. The electronic tabulation system worked well, making it possible to have all votes entered at the courthouse and submitted to the Minnesota State Auditor by 10:30 p.m. election night.

Assessor Mark Peterson reported there were eight foreclosures the second quarter this year, the lowest in the last four years. The type of properties foreclosing, however, shifted from being cabins to being homesteaded properties with six of the eight homesteads.

All were valued under $200,000. A few in other years were valued up to $400,000.

Authorized County Engineer Darrick Anderson to hire McLaughlin Auctioneers to sell surplus county equipment in an online auction from Oct. 6 to Oct. 16. Last year, McLaughlin conducted the annual auction for a $1,000 advertising fee which netted the county $88,000.

Approved a mediated agreement with Jenna Berg under which "neither party admits, and specifically denies, any violation of any local, state, or federal law, common or statutory."

The agreement calls for Berg to irrevocably resign from her employment with the county and waive any future right to seek employment with the county.

The county will pay $48,500, $17,426.58 of which will be paid to Berg and $31,073.42 of which will be paid to Nichols Kaster PLLP and Jenna Berg for attorneys' fees and costs. Both payments will be subject to taxes as reported on a Form 1099.

Berg signed the agreement Aug. 14 and has not exercised her option to rescind within 14 days. The county administrator will sign the agreement following the board's action Tuesday.

Approved Land Commissioner Kirk Titus' recommendation to add a newly acquired land tract in Birch Lake Township to the Deep Portage Area with Limitations. It includes 1,200 feet of the Boy River and will be designated a non-motorized area. Hunting on foot will continue to be permitted.

Approved Titus' selection of low-bidder Northwoods Forestry Inc. to place paper caps on tops of about 800 seedling trees per acre on 255 acres of newly planted trees for $60 per acre. The seedlings are in Woodrow, Deerfield, Powers, Trelipe, Poplar, Bling Lake, Loon Lake, May and Home Brook townships. The paper caps help prevent deer browsing on seedlings.

Selected low-bidder Northfork Excavating at $18 per yard to place 50 yards of gravel on a forest access road in Moose Lake Township to repair a washout.

Accepted Central Services Director Tim Richardson's recommendation to select the lowest of four bidders, Northdale Oil Inc., to provide propane fuel for the county's building heating needs this winter.

Cost will be $1.15 per gallon for bulk fuel deliveries and $1.08 per gallon for transport truck deliveries for a total of $101,650.

Accepted a $200 donation from the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association for the Cass County Sheriff's Honor Guard and approved out-of-state travel for Deputy Ryan Fisher to attend the Indian Country Strangulation and Suffocation Seminar in Columbia, S.C., in November.

Accepted a donation of food boxes for children made during this past summer by Hope Lutheran Church of Walker.

Approved a letter of support to Minnesota Department of Human Services for closing four nursing home beds at Walker Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Walker. The beds have been in "layaway" status for 10 years.

Approved a Health, Human and Veterans Services agreement with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District and Bi-County Community Action Program to provide early childhood screening to preschoolers, Head Start and child and teen checkups for children in that school district.

Learned Cass Health Services was named by Minnesota Department of Health as an Essential Community Provider for five years for offering high-risk, special needs and underserved individuals with health and related support services.

Content in an advertisement Health, Human and Veterans Services plans to place to encourage first-time mothers and fathers to use the county's support services to help them track their child's normal development from pregnancy through the child's first two years.

An agreement with TriMin Systems Inc. and Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative for maintenance and support of the integrated financial system Cass County uses.