Tuesday, July 10, 2012

County Board Meeting on July 10, 2012

Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.  Also present were County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen, and County Attorney Tim Scannell.

Public Comment Protocol Discussion
As agreed last week, the County Board discussed guidelines for the Public Comment period at the beginning of County Board meetings and ultimately agreed upon Guidelines for Cook County Board of Commissioners Public Comment Period  with a 4-1 vote (Sobanja abstained).  Copies of these guidelines will be available at County Board meetings.

Members of the Public are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to come before the County Board with questions, ideas, comments, and concerns about any County business.  There is a lot of power in showing up in person.

Public Comment Period
Two members of the public offered comments regarding the protocol for the Public Comment Protocol, Jane Howard and Lance Johnson.

Information Systems, Danna MacKenzie
The County Board approved a request to purchase a large format plotter at a cost of $4600 to be paid from the Emergency Management fund ($1500) and the Recorder's unallocated Land Records Improvement funds ($3100).  The current GIS map printer is 11 years old and no longer able to handle the size and volume of maps that are being produced for daily and emergency applications.

Danna MacKenzie, member of the Governor Dayton's Broadband Task Force, reported that she is the recently appointed leader of the Coordination Across Government Levels subgroup and will be reporting to Governor Dayton this Fall.

MacKenzie also reported that her participation in the Policy Fellows Program at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota is completed. The Policy Fellows program offers practical training in public affairs leadership for emerging leaders seeking new experiences and skills. The nine-month leadership and professional development experience equips participants with core leadership competencies to inspire, organize, and work effectively with others to advance the public good.

Power for Tower on Tower Road  
The issue of bringing power to the new 180' communications tower at the west end of the Tower Road in Hovland has been on-going for several years.  This tower is an integral part of the ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response) 800 MHZ public safety radio system being standardized in Minnesota.  The ARMER system will greatly improve Law Enforcement and Emergency Services communications and response times. The State of Minnesota will pay Arrowhead Electric Cooperative to install this power; alternatively, if power is not installed via the electrical grid, the State will install propane generator service as they have for other rural sites.

Sheriff Mark Falk, HVFD Fire Chief Charlie LaBoda, other members of the HVFD, and several property owners that use or own property along the Tower Road were present for this discussion. Law Enforcement, the Hovland Volunteer Fire Department, and most of the affected property owners prefer buried electrical service as opposed to propane generator service. However, with the installation of buried electric, there is concern among the property owners regarding the location of the road in relation to their properties, condition and maintenance of the road, clearing of trees, and easement language. Several property owners respectfully and reasonably stated their concerns to the Board.

After a fairly lengthy discussion, the County Board passed a motion authorizing $12,434 for Surveyor Wayne Hensche to survey the Tower Road and set 18 corners near the utility and at certain lot corners. Knowing the location of the road in relation to property parcels is the first step. The County Board also passed a motion to work with property owners to gain consent for installation of a power line.

Also during the discussion, the County Board expressed a willingness to repair any damage that occurs to the Tower Road during installation of power. The County also verbally agreed to make reasonable improvements to the road to aid in access and maintenance after the installation of power from the grid.

Joe Butweiler, of Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, was present for this discussion. He agreed that AEC would mark the location for the power easement for Wayne Hensche. He also agreed that AEC would consider modifying the easement language between AEC and property owners to more accurately reflect the single phase power to be installed. AEC will also install an electric box at properties along the Tower Road; they did not agree to free access to power. Butweiler also stated that owners can do their own clearing, as opposed to having AEC do the clearing, to ensure the least negative impact to the aesthetics and character of the woods.

At the end of this discussion, it seemed that all parties were reasonably satisfied that their concerns were being addressed.

Coroner's Service Agreement
The Board approved a Coroner's Services Agreement authorizing Dr. Sandra Stover to perform the duties of Coroner as outlined in MN Statute 390; Dr. Stover may also appoint one or more Assistant Coroners to act on her behalf when she is absent or unable to act.

A Public Hearing was held to consider making changes to the Cook County Fee Schedule.  No member of the public opted to speak and all recommended changes were approved by the Board.

2012 Small City Development Grant Award 
Nancy Grabko, Cook County Housing Administrator, asked the Board to authorize the EDA to proceed with the execution of (2) contracts to enable the work of the 2012 Small City Development Grant Award.  The Cook County EDA, led by Grabko and supported by the County, was successful in obtaining a grant for $291,000 for both single family and commercial rehabilitation.  Grabko will report quarterly to the Board on progress.

Cook County Local Energy Plan
The County Board adopted the Cook County and Grand Marais Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Plan, a voluntary plan for the County and the City to better prepare our community for the challenges, and opportunities, of a rapidly changing energy environment.  CCLEP was also designated as an Advisory Board to the County Board with Commissioner Jim Johnson named to that Advisory Board and Commissioner Fritz Sobanja as alternate.  Arrowhead Electric reviewed the plan with CCLEP and suggested some minor modifications to the plan which were accepted.

Active Living Steering Committee
Commissioner Jim Johnson was renamed as the County Board representative to the Active Living Steering Committee with Commissioner Sobanja as the alternate.

Capital Improvement Plan
Braidy Powers compiled a list of possible capital improvement and repair projects to be prioritized by the Board.  Powers will spread the projects over time and bring to the Board for further discussion.

Old Settler's Cemetery Board
The Board appointed Leslie H. Nelson to the Old Settlers Cemetery Board.

MN Department of Revenue Property Classification
County Assessor Mary Black is continuing to work with the Department of Revenue to determine the correct classifications for hotels and motels in Cook County. Black will report back to the County Board.

2012-2013 Department Heads Salary Negotiations
Salary negotiations between the County and the Department Heads have been on-going for several months and a proposal was forwarded to the County Board for consideration.

New Community Center Meetings
A Public Meeting to solicit input on the programming and floor plan for the Community Center is being held Thursday, July 12 from 6-8:00 pm at the JMCC at ISD166.

Meeting Minutes
Formal meeting minutes of this meeting may be obtained (after they are written and approved) by going to the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 387-3602. A video of this meeting will also be available by going to Boreal.TV.