BACKUS — Cass County commissioners received a request for an emergency declaration following damage from a July severe storm.

Deputy Sheriff Chad Emery, joining the Tuesday, Aug. 4, Cass County Board meeting via phone conference, requested the emergency declaration for the July 17 storm, noting it caused an estimated $110,121 in damage. By declaring the state of emergency for this date the county will be able to request reimbursement for 75% of the cost from the state.

Commissioners also approved an update to the Cass County COVID-19 Preparedness Plan consistent with Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order to change wording from “masks recommended” to “face coverings required,” Cass County Administrator Josh Stevenson said.

Central Services Director Tim Richardson requested the board to approve Thyssen-Krupp to remove the elevator cab and rail from an abandoned courthouse elevator shaft to install a bathroom for an amount not to exceed $12,500. Richardson said the reasoning is due to the cab not being easily removable and the rail that guided the cab cannot be left in the shaft. The addition of this restroom is necessary due to COVID-19 restrictions put into place and therefore will be a qualifying expense under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Commissioner Jeff Peterson made a motion to approve this expense with Commissioner Bob Kangas seconding the motion, and all board members approving.

Richardson also requested the board approve a bid from NAC Mechanical and Electrical Services for a total of $1,036,850 to convert the heating system to natural gas. Currently the boiler system is running on propane and is in need of repairs. With the recent availability of natural gas and the cost being more consistent than propane, the timing of conversion is good, Richardson said. Another benefit to switching to natural gas is fewer required licenses for staff.

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In other business, the county board:

Approved CARES Act grant expenditures in the amount of $176,447. Board Chair Neal Gaalswyk asked how many applications the county has received and if it has received any not qualified. Stevenson said the four applications the board is approving are the only ones received, aside from applications received since the board packet was printed. There were no applications that have not qualified for funding so far.

Approved the 2020 distribution of the state payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $1,234,415.06 and the Wildlife Management Lands distribution in the amount of $107,148.75.

Adopted a resolution for the completion of a phase 2 archeological investigation on County Highway 70 in East Gull Lake.

Approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Pine River for the city work on County Highway 1 this summer. This memorandum addresses the responsible parties for additional work to be conducted during the county highways 1 and 44 construction project this year.

The next meetings are as follows: Commissioner’s board meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, at Lake Shore City Hall, 8583 Interlachen Road, Lake Shore; and commissioner’s board meeting, 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Land Department Meeting Room in Backus.