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April 5 2022 County Board Meeting

Posted: 04/06/2022

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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At the April 5 meeting, Douglas County Commissioners voted to approve the 2022 redistricting plan as presented by Auditor/Treasurer Vicki Doehling. This plan was necessary following the 2020 census. Population numbers shift and districts must be redrawn to ensure fair representation.

District 1, represented by Keith Englund, did not change. District 2, represented by Tim Kalina, lost Alexandria Ward 1, Precinct 1, Alexandria Ward 5, Precinct 1, the city of Forada, and Hudson Township. The district gained all of Alexandria Ward 5. District 3, represented by Jerry Rapp, will lose the city of Nelson. District 4, represented by Charlie Meyer, will lose the former Alexandria city Ward 1, Precinct 2 and gain the cities of Nelson and Forada, and Hudson Township. Commissioner District 5, represented by Heather Larson, will lose the former Alexandria City Ward 5, Precinct 1, and gain all of redistricted Ward 1. Commissioners Meyer, Larson and Kalina are up for re-election in 2022. The vote to pass the new county redistricting plan was 4 to 1. Commissioner Meyer was opposed.

A public hearing was opened prior to the vote but no one attended.

Auditor/Treasurer

Vicki Doehling continued with her items following the closure of the public meeting.

Commissioners approved on-sale and off-sale liquor licenses. They also approved an application by United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties to conduct a raffle at Gathered Oaks on April 29, an application by the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association for a raffle at Arrowwood Resort June 30, and an application by NWTF Leaf Valley Tom’s chapter to hold a raffle at Leaf Valley Mercantile on June 25.

Doehling also had an informational item. She told commissioners the county received a grant to upgrade security for the 2022 elections. 

Coordinators Office

Coordinator Heather Schlangen shared that all county department heads received satisfactory evaluations for 2022.

She shared an updated personnel policy that will allow the elected positions of County Attorney, Auditor/Treasurer, Recorder and Sheriff to participate in the Health Savings Account. They will now be allowed to contribute two percent of their gross salary to the plan. 

The county updated its lactation support plan which provides employees paid time off during the workday to express milk.

Schlangen also asked commissioners to adopt a fee schedule for organizations not directly associated with Douglas County government requesting use of conference rooms in the Douglas County Administration building. The fee schedule includes a $230 per day rental. Conference rooms may only be rented in that building from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The motion was approved 3 to 2.

Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Troy Wolbersen explained there is a new, more sophisticated machine now doing fingerprinting in Douglas County. This machine performs live scans that share information within 15 minutes rather than the two weeks with the old process. The sheriff asked the board to approve increasing the public fingerprint fee to $20. The board approved the request.

Wolbersen also asked the board to approve a resolution supporting the 2021 Minnesota Federal Boating Safety, Supplemental Equipment Grant Agreement. The sheriff said he plans to use the $35,337.00 to purchase four red channel buoys, one Princecraft Voyageur 25-foot pontoon with a 114 hp motor. He told the commissioners the current pontoon is not stable enough. The pontoon is used to place and remove buoys and as a diving platform during drowning incidents.

Horizon Public Health

Crystal Hoepner shared with commissioners April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. She explained how Horizon Public Health works with the Toward Zero Deaths coalition and law enforcement to reduce traffic deaths on our roads. She says this is done through the 4 E’s: Education, Enforcement, Engineering and EMS.

Douglas County Library

Library Director Dawn Dailey shared with commissioners she received a $5,000 grant to create a Workforce corner in the library. This dedicated area will have resources to assist job seekers fill out resumes, work on cover letters and obtain other tips and advice to successfully apply for a job.

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson asked for, and was given, permission to advertise for chloride application work to control dust on gravel roads.

Commissioners also approved a contract for Kimley-Horn and Associates to provide engineering services for a roundabout by the Pilot in Alexandria. This contract will include surveying, planning, engineering, environmental coordination, and preparation of a complete plan set for roadway improvements at I-94 and Trunk Highway 27. The roundabout will be at the intersection of Trunk Highway 27/County State Aid Highway 46/County State Aid Highway 45 and westbound I 94 on and off ramps.  The $350,000 fee for the work will be paid out of the grant the county is receiving for the project. And, Erickson said, the company will do the design work in 10 months rather than the usual time period of two years. He also said the company is on the MnDOT approved list and is doing the design work on the roundabout on the other side of the bridge.

Erickson asked and was given approval to sell excess public works equipment including a pickup which will be sold at Private Party Value.

The board approved county public works searching for an expired gravel pit which would be used to temporarily store trees cut down on county property that need to be mulched and concrete removed that needs to be crushed. 

There was an update on the Lake Brophy Visitor Center. Parks Superintendent Brad Bonk asked the board to approve a change order on the roof underlayment that will save the county $12,000.

The board accepted a Kiwanis Club of Alexandria donation of $15,000 which was raised for the playground at the park. 

Finally, the board approved increasing the fee of the blue 911 address signs seen in Douglas County to $35. The increase is needed to cover the cost of materials.

Land and Resource Management

Director Dave Rush presented the board with a list of Excavator/Landscaper license requests to approve along with a number of preliminary plats which were all approved. 

  • Bobmike Meadow - Four lots in the Holmes City area
  • Berns Addition - One lot in LaGrand Township on Lake Cowdry
  • Hertwig Point First Addition - Miltona Township. The applicant is proposing an 18-lot subdivision. A 25-lot plat was completed in 2021 on the west half of this property.
  • Longview Estates – Osakis Township on Smith Lake. The developer brought this plat last year and proposed 24 lots to be served by a township road and stormwater collection and treatment infrastructure. The developer is now asking to include in the plat 15 or so future lots to the north and extension of the proposed road.

Preliminary plats often include language that includes the county as a party to any restrictive covenants. That means the county must give written permission for a covenant to be changed or waived on an individual basis.

Commissioners heard such a request from a couple hoping to build a home in the Harmony Hills Development in the northeast part of Douglas County.  The covenant prohibited driveways on Minnesouri Road. Commissioners requested a written statement from the township and will consider the request at the April 19 board meeting.

The county Feedlot Coordinator Mark Koep presented the 2021 annual report. The county has successfully met all of the goals as required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Finance

Finance Director Jill Frisell sits on the county committee which determines whether requests for American Rescue Plan Act funds meet the criteria set forth by congress. The sheriff’s office asked for up to $5.4 million to cover law enforcement salary and fringe benefits.  This request, she explained falls under the standard revenue loss deduction. The board approved the request. 

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