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Cass County Board: Economic development corp. continues to pursue development of Ah-Gwah-Ching

WALKER—Mike Paulus, Cass County Economic Development Corp. director, gave the county board an update on projects the EDC has worked on since last October.

He said the EDC continues to talk with people interested in developing some of the former Ah-Gwah-Ching property, but has no concrete offers yet. The county purchased a large portion of the former state hospital property at Walker from the state for $1 on the condition some of it would be used for future county government buildings and some would be used for health care-related facilities.

The county currently does not plan any new county government buildings. There has been no concrete proposal for health care facilities since Essentia Health Services withdrew its proposal about 10 years ago for a critical access hospital.

If the land were developed for other purposes, the state would expect to be reimbursed for full market value, according to the sale contract to the county.

Paulus said he has distributed much of a $99,999 U.S. Department of Agriculture revolving loan fund to help a start-up business elsewhere in the county, an existing business trying to retain existing employees and another business trying to expand in the county. There are other business loan funds also available through EDC, he said.

There is money available through an opportunity zone project for such businesses as wind farms, he said, though one possible project did not go forward.

Marina Lovell has moved from clerical into EDC consulting and programming along with Paulus, he said, opening an opportunity for adding a new office assistant position to someone who might want to work only about eight hours a week. Anyone interested can contact Paulus by phone at 218-947-7262 or email at cass.edc@co.cass.mn.us.

He said Lovell will more than earn her improved salary through projects she generates.

The EDC currently provides technical assistance to 28 businesses and residents in the county. Since October, the EDC has raised $1,365,000 in capital for county businesses, according to Paulus.

Cass will apply with Todd County for a USDA grant in May to help businesses with succession planning.

In other business, the county board:

Approved having new grade ratings done on the sign and bridge engineer position and a possible new maintenance supervisor position for the highway department.

Selected commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Scott Bruns to represent Cass on the Sourcewell Representative Assembly for 2019-20.

Accepted an agreement with Minnesota Department of Transportation under which the state will pay Cass $982.32 for wear and tear on County Highway 22 and County Road 206 when those are used for a detour around a state construction project on Highway 371 in Cass Lake for 85 days beginning about July 8 this summer.

Signed a certification form to allow the city of Lake Shore to use portions of County Highway 77 highway right of way for their state recreational trail.

Received a report from County Recorder Katie Norby, which shows the number of documents recorded and income from fees have remained relatively stable the last five years.

Approved a 2019 contract with Mark Beard to continue to oversee construction and repair projects for the county at the same rate as the last six years of $50 per hour for projects Central Services Director Tim Richardson approves.

Learned from Probation Director Jim Schneider the county will receive $3,752 for Cass County Team State Treatment Court conference travel and $3,048 for drug-testing supplies from the state court administrator's office. This is part of the wellness court program.

Approved allowing Probation Officer Brad Mesenbrink to attend the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, in April.

Signed a letter of support for Bi-County Community Action Program's application to receive a grant to implement homeless assistance to families.