Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Human Services and Cook County Board Meetings for July 17, 2012

Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair, Sue Hakes, along with board members Jim Johnson, Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's Human Services Board meeting. Commissioner Jan Hall was absent.

Committee Reports Recap
Arrowhead Health Alliance--Sue Hakes was happy to report that St. Louis County has joined Cook, Lake, Carlton, and Koochiching counties as a member of the Arrowhead Health Alliance (AHA).  The mission of AHA is to integrate public health and human services between counties to improve services and efficiencies.  In addition to Hakes, Sue Futterer attends AHA meetings.

Public Health and Human Services Advisory Board--Jerry Lilja and Carla LaPointe gave a thorough overview of the most recent PHHS Advisory Board noting that Cook County has been a leader in the State Health Improvement Program (SHIP); funding has been extended for an additional 3 years.  The Human Development Center (HDC) has added a therapist to assist within our schools and also to aid in home visits for children at risk.  The Living With a Chronic Disease course was a success, and a second session is planned.  The Violence Prevention Center is working to identify gaps in their services.

Out of Home Placement of Children
Social Services Supervisor, Grace Bushard, presented the Board with a short assessment regarding Cook County's out of home placement of children.  Even when it is in the best interest of the child, being removed from one's home is traumatic.  In Cook County, concern about the number and nature of out of home placements has provided an opportunity to reassess services.  

Unfortunately, there are high financial and high emotional costs to families and the community for out of home placements.  Over the past 4 years, 34 Cook County children were in out of home placement at a total county cost of $1,132,381, therefore, Cook County Human Services is exploring ways to prevent out of home placement and to reunify families as soon as is safely possible.

Bushard reported that overall, in 70% of the families where children were removed from the home, alcohol or drug abuse was either the primary or secondary factor. And in families where children were at risk and did not enter out of home placement, she noted that extended, supportive families to provide safety for children, and parents being able to bring children with them to CD treatment were extremely beneficial.

Financial Report
Fiscal Supervisor, Jan Parish, augmented Grace Bushard's presentation with specific sources of revenues and overall costs to the county for Out of Home Placements in Cook County.  Parish also presented the Board with her monthly department financial report.  Overall, expenditures and collections are hovering around 46% year-to-date, which is according to plan.

Director's Report
PHHS Director, Sue Futterer, reported that St. Louis County is fully on board for the next Region 3 Redesign effort in the area of Child Support.

Futterer distributed copies of the Guiding Principles for Senior Housing Options, a draft document created to aid seniors, county workers, families, and others in support of creating Senior Housing Options that best meet the needs of seniors in Cook County.  A committee has been working together for several months to address the issues of Senior Housing in Cook County.

Futterer gave the Board a 1-page summary of the PHHS 2013 Budget.  A need for increased services and costs, combined with a reduction in State reimbursements is indicating a need for an increase in the PHHS levy request.  Futterer, along with Parish and other staff, will be working with each other and the County Board to reduce their budget where possible without neglecting mandates or critical services.

Items for Board Action
The Board approved an amended Joint Powers Agreement between Carlton-Cook-Lake-St. Louis Counties for the Community Health Board.

Cook County Board Meeting
County Board Vice-Chair, Bruce Martinson, along with Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Board Chair Jan Hall was absent.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to address the County Board.

MN Department of Transportation (MN DOT)
Todd Campbell, MN DOT Engineer, gave the Board an overview of current District 1 Highway construction projects and Highway 61 maintenance projects underway in Cook and Lake counties.  In addition, Campbell shared MN DOT Tech Memo No 11-02-T-02 on Rumble Strips and Rumble StripEs on Rural Trunk Highways.  This policy applies only to projects on Rural Trunk Highways where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or higher.

Highway Department
The Board authorized a special event permit request from the Grand Marais Lions Club for the 83rd Annual Fisherman's Picnic.  The Board also approved the Lions Club request to use the county parking lot west of Fifth Avenue for overflow parking by vendors during Fisherman's Picnic

The Board authorized selling Ulland Brothers 3000 yards of gravel to be crushed as Class 5 gravel for the County Road 8 project.

Courthouse Maintenance
Courthouse Maintenance Director, Brian Silence, requested approval to make necessary repairs to the elevator at a cost of $7358.  The Board approved this request.

The County Board accepted the resignation of Mary Black, County Assessor, and wished her well in her new ventures.  The Board also authorized Personnel Director, Janet Simonen, to begin recruitment of a new County Assessor.

BWCA Land Exchange
Mary Black provided the Board with an update on the County/Forest Service Land Exchange reporting that the feasibility analysis for the exchange is currently being reviewed by the Forest Service in Duluth and will ultimately be forwarded to Milwaukee.  The exchange is moving through the process.

Vegetation Management
Mary Black provided the Board with information from DOW AgroSciences regarding vegetation management that will be occurring in Cook County, including on County owned property.  Black does not anticipate problem areas.

Miscellaneous Requests
The Board approved the purchase of vehicle insurance for the Off-Site pickup used at the Cook County Airport.

The Board approved by resolution the permit application for lawful gambling activity for the Mid-Trail Property Owners Association to conduct a raffle with a prize value of less than $1500 on August 18 at the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.

Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) for Matt Geretschlaeger
Matt Geretschlaeger came before the County Board requsting a Letter of Committment for a $250,000 loan as part of a $929,300 project to build and operate a Zip Line business on the Old Ski Hill property off the Gunflint Trail just north of Grand Marais.

Geretschlaeger's business development plan for this project includes the Zip Line Equipment ($350,000), a Building ($220,000), Road/Water/Private Sewer Infrastructure ($250,000) and the land recently purchased from the City of Grand Marais for $75,000.

In addition to the $250,000 request from the County RLF, Geretschlaeger is applying for a $329,300 loan from Security State Bank, and a $250,000 grant from the Iron Range Resources Board (IRRB).

Geretschlaeger's Cook County Revolving Loan Fund request for $250,000 was approved by the RLF Committee last week based on the approximately $600,000 collateral in real estate owned by Geretschlaeger as security for the proposed financing. This collateral includes Geretschlaeger's home. This request was also approved by the County Board by a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Sue Hakes opposed. Hakes voted against approving this loan mainly based on the financial risk to the County associated with the collateral, lack of working capital, and lack of justification for the revenue stream.

New Community Center
Diane Booth will be coming to the Board July 24 with a request for wetland delineation needed for the outdoor recreation area.  Sue Hakes will be contacting a commercial appraiser to get a bid for the west end of the School building and property to be used for the Cook County Family YMCA.  And, the Board approved paying lodging and mileage for YMCA Chris Francis to travel to Grand Marais when requested by the County Board.

2012-2013 Department Head Salaries
The County Board approved a salary increase for the Department Heads (including 4 elected officials Scannell, Powers, Falk, Nelms).  The increase is for 2.5% COLA, Step 10 increase from 2.3% to 3%.  In addition, each Department Head will contribute $25/month for Single/Family Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance.

Hovland Highway Department Garage
The County Board traveled to Hovland to examine the condition and understand the issues surrounding the Hovland Highway Department Garage.  The building is in significant disrepair.

Meeting Minutes
County Board meeting minutes will be available after approval by going to the County Website or by contacting Janet Simonen at 218-387-3687.  You may also watch a video of today's County Board meeting by going to Boreal.TV..