Friday, April 22, 2011

Human Services and County Board Meetings

Generally, I try to post blog entries on the same day as the Board Meetings.  This week, however, I was unable to do that due to a heavy schedule.  Both the Human Services and County Board meetings I'm sharing in this entry occurred last Tuesday, April 19, 2011. 

Human Services Board Meeting on April 19, 2011
Jim Johnson is out of the County; Diane Fitzgerald was ill.  All other Human  Services Board members were present.  I called the meeting to order and the agenda and last month's meeting minutes were approved.

Committee Reports
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency--I reported that the results of the study recently conducted by AEOA on homeless persons in Cook County was reviewed by approximately 12 Cook  County residents that actually participated in the study.  This meeting was led by AEOA Staff who reported that Cook County is diverse and not what it appears to be upon first blush.  Possible solutions to the problem were discussed by the group.
Arrowhead Regional Corrections--Commissioner Jan Hall reported that ARC is in the process of hiring a new director.
Community Health Board--Commissioner Hall reported that the CHB has put several purchases, including bike racks and speed limit signs, on hold until funding decisions are made.

Child and Family Service Reviews
Social Services Supervisor, Grace Bushard, gave a very informative presentation on the Minnesota Child and Family Safety Review (CFSR) Program.  Bushard explained that CFSR is a collaborative effort between state and federal agencies that focuses on key child welfare practices and systems.  This Child Protection Program focuses on results instead of penalty in (3) key areas of effort:  Safety (of children), Permanency (in living situations) and Well-Being (meeting all the needs of children). 

Bushard also noted that in both Minnesota and Cook County there is a strong effort to re-unite children with their families or primary caregivers, but only after a safety plan is in place.  Cook County will participate in a review to examine social work practice and principles that contribute to improved outcomes for children and families in 2012;  our last review was in 2006.

It was clear that Bushard is passionate about this important work.

Financial Report 
Income Maintenance and Fiscal Superior, Jan  Parish, complemented Bushard's presentation nicely by giving the Board a financial summary of "Out of Home Placements" in Cook County's Public Health & Human Services.  In 2010, Cook County handled 14 cases for a total cost of $285,730. 

Director's Report
Director Sue Futterer reported on the Region 3 Redesign Income Maintenance Project noting that a market survey will be conducted to explore other vendors for document management systems.  Futterer also reported on the PHHS role in the Emergency Management Conference Mock Airplane Crash to be held April 29-30, updates to the legislative process as it affects Public Health and Human Services, and staffing needs resulting from medical leaves.

Items for Board Action
The Board approved a grant contract agreement between the Department of Health Services and Cook County for the purchase of technology upgrades.  This grant funding will be used to purchase a laptop to complete MN Choices Program Assessments.

County Board Meeting on April 19, 2011
VIce Chair Jan Hall chaired the meeting in Chair Jim Johnson's planned absence. 

Public Comment
Kevin Norby of Herfort/Norby  Golf Course Architects addressed the County Board by giving an overview of his firm's qualifications, as well as that of the proposal lead Golf Convergence.  Nordby asked the Board to interview Golf Convergence and postpone making a selection for a Superior National Golf Course consultant.

County Highway Department--David Betts, County Engineer
County Board approved a request to replace a pressure washer that was broken after freezing when a garage door malfunctioned last month.  Unit cost is $5113.38 with all but $1000.00 covered by insurance. 

County Board authorized County Engineer David Betts to hire up to 5 temporary employees this summer.  (4) temporary positions are already included in the 2011 approved budget.  The 5th temporary employee is needed to offset the unexpected leave of a permanent Maintenance Worker I employee.  Estimated wages for these workers is $67,300 and will be paid for from the County State Aid construction fund, County State Aid maintenance funds, GLRI Invasive Species Grant and the Highway Department's maintenance budget.

County Sheriff Mark Falk
County Board approved the Cooperative Law Enforcement Agreement and Operating and Financial Plan between the US Forest Services and the Cook County Sheriff's Office to provide a cooperative effort for law enforcement services on National Forest Services lands within Cook County.  Funding provided to this agreement is $11,500, a reduction from the $23,000 received in previous years.  Forest Service lands are under Cook County jurisdiction.

Search & Rescue Building
Emergency Management Director Jim Wiinanen requested authorization to purchase the materials needed to make improvements to the Search and Rescue Hall.  Commissioner Hall toured the facility and agrees with the needed improvements.  The County Board directed Wiinanen and Brian Silence to seek bids for the work.

Maintenance Department
Maintenance Director, Brian Silence, requested authorization to hire a temporary employee in the Maintenance Department for 12 weeks this summer.  The County Board approved the request.

11:00 AM PUBLIC HEARING to assess the costs of the Judge Magney Survey
No members of the Public spoke at this hearing although a letter was received from Tom and Mary Hong Loe.  County Surveyor Wayne Hensche presented the costs per parcel.  After taking into consideration feedback from several property owners prior to today's Public Hearing, as well as the letter from Loe's, the County Board approved the costs of the Judge Magney Survey with payment terms of up to 10 years at 1% interest.

One Percent Projects
Rob Barse of ORB Management was present to give updates and move business forward for Superior National Golf Course and Birch Grove Community Center projects.

The County Board voted 3-1 to hire Sirius Golf Advisors as the Golf Course Consultant for Superior National Golf Course as recommended by the selection committee of Bruce Martinson, Braidy Powers, Tim Scannell, John Lindell, Myron Bursheim, Mike Davies and Sue Hakes.  The selection committee confirmed their decision to hire Sirius after an interview was conducted.  All responders to the RFP were highly qualified.

The County Board voted to accept the Construction Management Agreement with ORB for the One Percent project to improve infrastructure at Superior National.  I learned later, that the Agreement before the Board was a draft and it was premature to authorize it.  It is anticipated that the County Board will work with the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to move this project and this agreement forward properly.

The County Board authorized the Birch Grove Community Center Project to move forward on upgrading the Service Kitchen for an estimated project costs of $41,790.  The Board also approved the Consulting Sub-Agreement with ORB for this project.  Tofte Township intends to contract directly with ORB to be the Construction Manager for this project.

Sentence to Serve
The Board approved the contract for Sentence to Serve as presented by Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers.  The State's contribution was lowered from 75% to 50% for this program effective last year.

Airport Lease
The Board approved a lease between Cook County and the State Department of Administration for use of a parcel of airport land for the DNR in the event of fire danger.

Airport Grant
The County Board approved the grant agreement for the previously approved purchase of a John Deer Wide Area Mower at a cost not to exceed $51,863.39.  The State will pay 2/3 of this cost leaving the County responsible for $17,287.79.

Community Center One Percent Project Update
I was pleased to report to that the Community Center Steering Committee has come to an agreement on a recommendation of the Schematic Design and location for the new facility.  This recommendation comes after several months of study and consideration of past and on-going public input, stakeholder surveys and stakeholder representation on the Steering Committee. 

The Committee is now ready to present their recommendation to the County Board for authorization to move forward.  Included in this presentation will be an overview of the Financial Feasibility study. The Committee will also be holding (2) Public Meetings in mid-May.  The purpose of the Public meetings is twofold:  1)  to inform the Public of the current recommendation, and 2) to ask the Public for feedback on the schematic design.  We will be listening!  Stay tuned for dates and locations.

It should be noted that the current design is subject to change as we get input from the County Board and the Public.  It will also change as we move from the pre-design to the design phase and as we work to keep the facility within budget for construction, as well as future Operations & Maintenance costs.