Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings for May 15, 2012

Cook County Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes and Board Members Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja, Jan Hall, Bruce Martinson, and Fritz Sobanja were all present for yesterday's meeting.  Also present were PHHS Director Sue Futterer and Janet Simonen.

Committee Reports
Committee reports were given for recent meetings of the Arrowhead Health Alliance, Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee and North Shore Collaborative.

2011 Year End Financial and Client Report
Jan Parish, Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor, gave the Board a fairly detailed overview of the 2011 Financials which included the (3) major areas of Public Health and Human Services business:  Income Maintenance, Social Services, Public Health Nursing.  In summary, Parish noted that in spite of  some unusual circumstances last year, the budget remained reasonably stable overall.  It is important to recognize the difficulty of budgeting for Public Health and Human Services because of the unpredictable nature of a) the level of services required, and b) the level of State and Federal funding available.

Director's Report
Sue Futterer reported that the Region 3 Redesign effort for the delivery of Child Support Services is moving forward.  Last week the County Board passed a resolution authorizing Cook County PHHS to join with six other counties in Region 3 to explore options for collaboration and sharing of resources in the Child Support Program area. Futterer reported that 5 of 6 counties have passed similar resolutions with St. Louis County anticipated to follow shortly.

Futterer also gave an update on the TXT4Life Suicide Prevention Project for NE Minnesota. Suicide is a leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24 in Minnesota and particularly high in NE Minnesota.  Cook County High School gave a well-received presentation to students at ISD166.  To date, over 11,000 students have been given TXT4Life information.  If you, or someone you know needs help,  please go to the TXT4Life website for more information.

Another meeting of the Seniors Housing Services project is scheduled for next week.  Futterer and Commissioner Bruce Martinson represent the County in that work to identify and ultimately implement ways to keep seniors safely in their homes for as long as possible.

Grace Buchard and Sue Futterer informed the Board that Bridge House, a mental health crisis facility in Duluth, is being closed due to lack of State funding.  Cook County Human Services is working with area Human Service departments and health care alliances to provide crisis stabilization for those in need to fill the gap left by the closing of Bridge House.

Board Action
Upon the recommendation of  the Human Services Advisory Committee, the Human Services Board moved to appoint Frances Jarchow to the Cook County Public Health and Human Services Advisoy Committee to fill a vacancy for a one year term.  Welcome Frances!

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Board Chair Jan Hall called the meeting to order.  In attendance were Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja with Commissioner Johnson absent.  Also in attendance was Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director Janet Simonen.  County Attorney Tim Scannell was also present for portions of the meeting.

Public Comment
Garry Gamble addressed the County Board regarding his personal concerns about the Community Center Project.

North Shore Visitation Center
Wendy Hansen, Annie DeBevec, Jodi Yuhasey and Grace Buchard gave the Board an overview of the North Shore Visitation Center and its current lack of funding.  The North Shore Visitation Center enables supervised visitation and exchanges for children and is a valuable tool to maintain family relationships and reduce repeated crimes against children and partners and spouses of abusive people.  Annual budget projections for this program is $34,200; the Cook County Board voted 3-1 (Martinson opposed) to contribute $5000 annually for 5 years as a separate budget line item.  Additional funding is being requested from Lake County, Lloyd K. Johnson foundation, DSACF Community Opportunity Fund and Cliffs Foundation.

Highway Department
On the recommendation of Highway Engineer David Betts, contracts were awarded for 1) aggregate stockpile for 20,000 yards at $121,450, 2) summer maintenance for Evergreen Road, Mile O'Pine Road, Voyageur's Point, and West Rosebush Lane to lowest bidders, and 3)   liquid calcium chloride.  (2) identical bids were received so a flip of the coin was made.

Assessor/Land Commissioner
The Board aproved an abatement for the Human Development Center for $7664 as requested and recommended by Assessor Mary Black.  HDC is also exempt from property taxes in St. Louis County and Carlton County.

The Board approved a Right of Entry Authorization for Watercraft Inspections for the DNR to examine water-related equipment to determine whether aquatic invasive species, aquatic macrophytes, or water is present.

Cook County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA)
Biz Clark, COLA Chair, and Ilena Berg, Water Plan Coordinator, gave an overview of the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program.  The Coalition and County cooperate to recruit and support volunteers who sample water and gather data used to track lake health.  (26) lakes in Cook County are currently monitored.  Clark also talked about healthy lakes having higher property values and education opportunities planned for local real estate agents.

Courthouse Security
Steve Swenson, of CJES, introduced himself to the Board; Swenson is in Cook County conducting his Security Audit of the Courthouse.  Swenson will also be submitting a proposal to conduct an audit at the County Highway Department, Community Center, ISD166 and the Hospital/Clinic/Care Center.

Cook County Community Center
Tom Wacholz, ORB President, and Community Center Director Diane Booth, presented the County Board with a Draft Concept Plan for the Community Center and a Scope/Cost Estimate for the Draft Concept Plan.  This Plan was developed by the Community Center Steering Committee with support from ORB Management and the YMCA.  Highlights of the current draft include a) the Community Center will be physically connected to ISD166,  b)  approximately 20,000 SF of ISD166 will be remodeled for the project, c)  approximately 12,000 SF of new construction will be necessary (mostly for the pool), d) programming space will include Aquatics, multi-purpose gymnasium with walking track,  multi-purpose rooms for youth/meetings/classrooms/dance/other, e) estimated cost of the facility is $8.5 million, f) estimated cost of outdoor amenities is $990,000 and includes ice, soccer field restoration, warming house in existing Community Center, new ballfield, parking, lighting, landscaping, etc.

The County Board moved unanimously to authorize ORB Management to proceed with the design and development phase of the project as proposed in the Draft Concept and existing Contracts at a cost not-to-exceed $9,500,000.

Birch Grove Community Project
D.C. Olson, representing the One Percent Birch Grove Community Project, with support from ORB President Tom Wacholz, came before the Board to request additional funds for the project.  The additional funds were requested to include a Picnic Shelter, re-location of a Outdoor Classroom, and paving that weren't originally included in the project but would enhance it greatly.  The Board authorized an additional $270,000 for the Birch Grove Project bringing it to a total of $970,000.

2012 General Fund Financial Review
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers provided the Board with a General Fund Cash Status report outlining 1) outstanding loans granted by the County to Fire Departments, Lutsen Trailbreakers, Council on Aging and the EDA, b)  approved loans to be granted by the County to Fire Departments, c) potential purchases for ARMER, Security upgrades, Highway Department upgrades, Airport runway match, and d) Restrictions made for Compensated Absences.

Superior National Golf Course
The County Board meeting was suspended at approximately 1:15 pm and resumed at approximately 2:00 pm at Arrowhead Electric Cooperative and the Superior National Golf Course.  Commissioners in attendance for this portion of the meeting were Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja.  Jan Hall and Jim Johnson were absent.  The County Board and Braidy Powers were given an overview of the proposed physical upgrades to SNGC, the business plan as it stands today, and a tour of the actual course itself.  The tour was given by Bob Fenwick, other staff at SNGC, the EDA Golf Course Committee, John Waite (Sirius Golf Course Advisors) and Jeff Brauer (golf course architect).

Meeting Minutes
Copies of the County Board meeting minutes from May 15, 2012 will be available on the Cook County website or by contacting Janet Simonen at 218-387-3602 after they are drafted and approved.  A video of this may meeting may also be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.