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County Board Meeting September 7

Posted: 09/07/2021

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments, Public Works

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners held a jam-packed board meeting Tuesday, September 7 that concluded with an informational presentation on the possible request for a Lake Improvement District on Lake Osakis.

First, commissioners conducted more routine business.

Audit

Miranda Wendlandt, with Clifton Larson Allen, presented the 2020 Financial Statement Audit Exit. She characterized the financial performance of the county as very healthy, saying this is a very clean audit and the finance staff should be proud of the work they put into preparing for it. The only issues she found were with the county ditch systems which should not have negative fund balances and a lack of segregation of duties which means occasionally only one person processes a financial transaction. She agreed it’s a common occurrence in many counties.  

Remodel of county courthouse and services center

Commissioners approved the proposed budget for remodeling of the Douglas County Services Center and Courthouse. The remodel is necessary following the move of the Douglas County License Bureau to the new Administration Building at 822 Douglas Street and the relocation of U of M Extension to the courthouse at 305 8th Avenue West. The budget, which commissioners approved, is $1.8 million.

County Attorney

County Attorney Chad Larson received permission to expand his staff to deal with a large increase in caseloads, primarily child protection cases. He says a lot of the cases involve a parent and drug possession or sale and that impacts the children. Larson says currently there are only five attorneys in his office, including him and they handle well over a thousand cases a year.

Larson also requested approval of the contract for Medical Examiner Services. The county uses Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County.

Rainbow Rider

Brenda Brittin, Director of Rainbow Rider, along with Operations Manager Tom Partington, shared with commissioners the progress being made to find a new, larger site for a bus storage and maintenance facility. They told commissioners they hadn’t yet purchased a plot of land near ALASD, but they have secured the financing. Rainbow Rider provides service to multiple counties, including Douglas.

Auditor Treasurer

Auditor Treasurer Vicki Doehling will be allowed to grant a gambling permit to United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties to hold a raffle Sept. 21 at the Alexandria Shooting Park.

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson asked the board to approve final payment on the 2021 contract for application of liquid calcium chloride. He also asked for approval to pay the final bill to Riley Brothers Construction for grading and aggregate base work on CSAH 7.

Erickson also asked for and was granted permission to work with District 206 on vacating right of way so the school can proceed with its expansion at Discovery Middle School and the county can, in the near future, work on a ten foot path in front of the school. That path will run from County Road 82 to Highway 29 and provide a safer means of walking or biking in the area.  

Tom Anderson, the county drainage and ag inspector, asked for permission to solicit quotes for the repair of Branch 2 of County Ditch #6. He also asked to reimburse a property owner on County Ditch #10 $1,000.00 for work he has done to remove trees so he can install tile.

Park Memorial Policy

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners had requested Park Superintendent Brad Bonk create a policy for memorials. The new policy designates Curt Felt Memorial Park as the location where small memorial donations will be used for upkeep. The names of the persons in the memorials will be recognized at a board meeting, published in the Echo Press, and featured on a webpage within the Curt Felt Memorial Park page of the Douglas County website. All current benches, plaques and trees will  remain in place until they fall into disrepair or removal is deemed necessary by county staff.

Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission

Each year certain agencies serving the county and its residents and visitors, make a request for county funding. At this board meeting, Executive Director Nicole Fernholz, with the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, presented on the value of the AAEDC and requested $45,000. The funds will largely be used for marketing the region to people who are interested in relocating to the area for jobs. Commissioners approved her request and praised the work it’s doing.

Osakis Economic Development Association (EDA)

Angela Jacobson, the Osakis City Clerk and Treasurer, requested $2,278.00. She says the funds will be used to promote businesses and economic growth. She said the Osakis visitor center will be staffed with these funds and storefront renovations may be completed. She told commissioners the EDA is a totally volunteer board and no tax money is used. The board approved her request.

Runestone Museum Foundation

Amanda Seim requested $25,000 for the foundation which she says will be used for deferred maintenance projects at the Runestone Museum including the 1868 Stagecoach Stop and three 1860s buildings on campus. She said the museum is consistently the number one attraction cited by tourists to Douglas County. Commissioners tabled the request until their September 21 meeting.

West Central Communities Action

Heather Molesworth asked for and received support for a $232,500.00 grant which will be used for housing needs of families, single adults and youth. She also asked the board for a $5,000 contribution to the LaunchPad program which provides a short term stay in townhome type housing for those in need. The people chosen for the program work closely with case managers. Molesworth says they have had a 100 percent success rate.

Viking Library System

The county library of today is not the same as the one many of the commissioners grew up with, as they will tell you.  For example, technology is providing opportunities for e-content that is extremely popular. The director of the Viking Library System, Erin Smith, explained the successes of the library during COVID-19 and the challenges that lay ahead. She requested $141,772.00 for 2022 which the board approved.


Additional Funding Requests

The board also approved $1,023.00 for the Pomme de Terre River Association and $4,200.00 for the Chippewa River Watershed Association.

Land and Resource Management

Commissioners approved the preliminary plat, with conditions, for Hertwig Point on Lake Miltona. The plat consists of 25 residential lots, seven of which will have frontage on Lake Miltona.  

Osakis Lake Improvement District?

Bruce Magnus, Osakis Lake Association president, and two board members, helped Douglas County commissioners understand their pursuit of a Lake Improvement District. Lake Osakis has Curlyleaf Pondweed and the association wants to treat it to reduce its destructive impact.  The costs will be approximately $200,000 in 2022. Creating a Lake Improvement District will allow a joint powers to be set up between Douglas and Todd Counties and the city of Osakis. Those governmental bodies would have taxing authority. A petition is currently circulating to gauge support. County Board Chair Jerry Rapp, who also serves that area, said determining if the people who live on the lake see it as a good thing, is the first important step.

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