Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 22 Human Services and County Board Meetings: Adult and Child Support Services, USFS Land Exchange, YMCA Construction Project Bids

Cook County Human Services Board
Chairperson Sue Hakes, along with Human Services Board Members Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Jerry Lilja and Bruce Martinson were present for this first 2013 Meeting of the Cook County Human Services Board.  Absent were Carla LaPointe (illness) and Jan Hall.

Election of 2013 Chairperson and Vice Chairperson
Sue Hakes and Jerry Lilja were elected respectively as Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Cook County Human Services Board.  Commissioner Hakes expressed her appreciation and joy at being re-elected to this position.

Committee Reports
Detailed reports were provided by Garry Gamble, Jerry Lilja and Bruce Martinson on the Arrowhead Regional Corrections Board, Public Health & Human Services Advisory Committee, and Health Care Planning Committee respectively.

Staff Report - Barb Rasmussen, General Adult Services
Social Worker, Barbara Rasmussen, reported on services she provides under Adult Services General.  The target population for Adult Services General is residents of Cook County age 18 and over.  Approximately 25% of Rasmussen's social service clients do not fit the strict eligibility criteria such as persons with mental illness, chemical dependency, a vulnerable adult, persons eligible for home-community based services, or managed client care, but may be served under Adult Services General.

Clients come to Rasmussen for services at a time of crisis such as loss of housing, health changes or extreme poverty and are often referred from financial workers within PHHS.  They are often eligible for financial assistance or other community services but are unaware of services available or are unable to complete the necessary paperwork.  Rasmussen helps her clients get the services they need; with many of these client becoming adult mental health and community based cases.

Rasmussen is modest about the critical services she provides with so much care and attention.

Financial Report - Jan Parish, Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor
Jan Parish gave the monthly Financial Report for PHHS noting that all cash balances are in at 100% and the fund balance is at $827,152.  Parish also explained how costly the recent staff turnovers can be due to training needs, benefit payouts, and overtime by other staff.

Director's Report - Sue Futterer
Public Health and Human Services Director Sue Futterer reported that Wendy Danielson is providing temporary Child Support Services to Cook County on weekends.  Danielson recently resigned from Cook County and has accepted a position to work at another County.  This open Child Support Office position is being advertised, but final determination about how these services will be provided is yet to be determined.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Vice Chairperson Bruce Martinson called the meeting to order in the absence of Chair Jan Hall.  Also in attendance were Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes, Bruce Martinson and Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Nancy Larson, US Forest Service Gunflint District Ranger
USFS District Ranger Nancy Larson came before the County Board to introduce herself and answer any questions the County Board might have regarding the USFS.  Commissioner Hakes  inquired about the status of the Tilbury (South Fowl) snowmobile trail and Commissioner Martinson inquired about the need for better maps in the Travel Management Plan.  It was acknowledged that the County and the USFS are in the process of a Land Exchange.

Office of Planning and Zoning
OPZ Director Tim Nelson and Assistant Planning and Zoning Administrator David Demmer provided the Board with information and answered questions about the Wetland Management Plan to be developed and Committee to be named.  It is anticipated that it will take approximately one year to develop a Wetland Management Plan for Cook County with the first meeting scheduled for February 12, 2013.  Each Commissioner has been asked to appoint a representative from their district to serve on the committee.

The Board approved multiple Conditional Use Permits (CUP) for gravel extraction as presented by Planning and Zoning Administrator Bill Lane.  Ten unchanged permits were reviewed by OPZ, the review was accepted by the Board.  The Board also approved two Conditional User Permit amendments:  1)  Cook County Highway Department CUP was amended to allow the expansion of  an area open to mining and the establishment of a hot mix asphalt plant in the Ball Club Lake Road gravel pit, and 2) Dean and Roxann Berglund's CUP was amended allowing gravel crushing and processing in a gravel pit adjacent to the Gunflint Trail.

Betty Schultz, Assessor/Land Commissioner
Betty Schultz reported on the January 18th Meeting held between the USFS and Cook County regarding the pending USFS/Cook County land exchange; attendees were Nancy Larson, Randee Olson, Patti DeShaw, John Olson, Sue Hakes, Bruce Martinson, Russell Klegstad, David Betts, Betty Schultz and Susan Waller (via telephone).  Discussion at this meeting included an explanation of the Appraisal Process, the importance of a County priority land exchange list, and parcel groupings.  A meeting of County personnel is scheduled to discuss the prioritization of parcels to be presented at the County Board Meeting on January 29, 2013.

Schultz made a request for the addition of a Clerk position in the Assessor's Office.  Schultz is concerned about the Assessor's Office not having adequate staff to meet the Department of Revenue (DOR) requirements for each County to inspect 20% of its parcels annually.  Schultz reported that the DOR's quintile requirement has not been fully met for a number of years, largely due to the Assessor's Office workload and the DOR has asked for a 5-year plan to rectify this. The County Board discussed this request at length; no decision was made.

Brian Silence, Maintenance Director
The Board authorized Brian Silence to seek bids to add 2 new vehicles to the County fleet.  Current balance in the car fund is $108,000.

Cook County Family YMCA Project Update
Commissioner Hakes reported that contractor bids for Bid Package 4 on the Cook County Family YMCA project were received on January 17.  Hakes is extremely disappointed that the bids came in significantly over the projections made by ORB Management. Because the work in Bid Package 4 was divided between a base bid and several alternates, it was difficult to determine the exact delta between the bids and the budget.  But it has since been determined to be approximately 20% higher  ($1.9M) than the overall budget of $9.5M.

A plan for the corrective action required to bring the project to within the $9.5M budget is being developed.  This plan will include a combination of a reduction in scope and value engineering reductions. ORB Management and JLG Architects are acutely aware of the need to bring this project to within budget and have been directed to present realistic options for the Steering Committee to consider at its meeting Friday, January 24.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the meeting minutes are available upon request by contacting Janet Simonen at 218-387-3602 or by emailing  The approved meeting minutes will also be posted on the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting is available by going to Boreal.TV.