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County Board Meeting February 16

Posted: 02/17/2021

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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Approving more than $1 million in Covid 19-related grants to Douglas County businesses, accepting the retirement of Assessor Keith Albertsen, appointing a replacement for the retiring Auditor/Treasurer/Finance Director Char Rosenow, creating a new finance Department and approving a planned storage unit that generated a great deal of public input, are among the highlights of the February 16 board meeting.  

Other actions include:

Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management

Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management Director Steve Vrchota and Todd Hagen from Ehlers Public Finance Advisors shared with commissioners that Pope County will be issuing $5.125 million in general obligation solid waste revenue bonds for the construction of an organics composting facility and operations center with offices. These funds will be used as a match for state funds approved in the bonding bill. Ehlers reiterated interest rates are incredibly low making this a very good time to issue bonds. Pope and Douglas County operate the facility under a joint powers agreement and coordinate on authorizing the issuance of bonds. Vrchota told the commissioners he appreciates their support of this project.

Public Works

Public Works Director and County Engineer Tim Erickson asked commissioners to approve a 2021 contract with Newman Signs which was the low bid. Erickson says the company has done a good job in the past.

He also asked the board to support the applications for Local Road Improvement Funding (LRIF) for Brandon and Osakis Townships. Brandon Township plans to improve Limb Road NW and Osakis Township plans to improve Smith Lake Road SE. Commissioners approved his requests.

Sheriff’s Office

Commissioners passed a resolution accepting a donation of $50 for the sheriff’s office from Linda Frisell.

Auditor/Treasurer/Finance Director

A big thanks to the members of the committee who determined which Douglas County businesses were eligible for a second round of Covid 19 related grants. The state awarded Douglas County $754,292.00 and the county added $250,707.80 for the grants which businesses applied for. They had to demonstrate a fourth quarter loss or have been a new business in 2020. The focus was on businesses directly impacted by Executive Order 20-99.

More than 80 businesses will receive the grant funds.

Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow and the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission reviewed the applications and, working with additional committee members, made the final awards.

Rosenow also asked commissioners to approve the Miltona Lions Club operating electronic pull tabs and bingo at Jim and Judy’s, a set-up license for the Cottage Grove Resort, a seasonal liquor license for Lake Miltona Golf Club, and a seasonl liquor license for Chet’s Lakeside Inn. The commissioners approved the requests.

Land and Resource 

Director Dave Rush asked commissioners to approve excavator/landscaper licenses and the final plat for Bedmans Beach Second Addition. Both motions passed.

He asked for and received approval of a conditional use permit for a new 48-unit RV campground for Andes Tower Hills. The seasonal sites will be supplied with electric, water and connection to a central septic treatment system. The short-term sites will have access to a water filling station and sewer dump station.

Approximately five residents attended the meeting to see whether the board would approve a request for a 24-unit storage facility near Lake Andrew. The applicants plan to create 7 residential lots on the lake and locate the storage unit behind those lots. The storage units will be owned by individuals. The Planning Advisory Commission approved the proposed development January 26. Board Chair Jerry Rapp explained to those in attendance the applicant had followed the proper guidelines in the zoning and planning process. He said, “I know there are people for and against it. Determination will be based on codes and regulations.  This has gone through the appropriate process and procedures and that’s what the board will base its decision on today.” Commissioners approved the project.

Rush also presented the 2021 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) implementation plan and budget. The goal is to proactively prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The county receives annual funding for this and conducts a robust education and outreach campaign. It hires inspectors at boat landings who monitor watercraft entering and leaving the water and gives them authority to require owners to remove any visible contaminants. The county also purchases and installs decontamination units for watercraft owners to use. These are located at Lake Le Homme Dieu and Lakes Miltona, Geneva and Mary. A cleaning station will be installed at Lake Osakis in the spring of 2021. The plan also outlines how volunteers and hired services actively monitor area lakes for new invasive species and work with lake associations to help manage and treat existing infestations. 

Veterans Service

Veterans Service Office Jake Turner requested permission to begin the hiring process for a driver to transport veterans to and from medical appointments. He also asked them to accept two donations. Mr. and Mrs. Seidl of Parkers Prairie donated $200 for veterans in need and the Lietzau family donated $100. 

Board of Commissioners

After 32 years as Douglas County Assessor, Keith Albertsen has decided to retire. Commissioner Heather Larson gave him a very heartfelt thank you which was echoed by the rest of the commissioners. The board accepted his retirement and gave the coordinator permission to move forward to fill the position. Albertsen will work through March and then use accrued vacation. There will be much more information about Keith and his career in the coming weeks on the county Facebook page and this website.

The board also moved to create a separate finance department. In 2016 Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow agreed to take on the additional duty of finance director. Following her retirement at the end of February that will change. The board appointed Vicki Doehling to fill the remainder of the Auditor/Treasurer elected role and created the separate finance department. Work will begin immediately to post for and fill that department head opening. There will be an article on Char’s contributions to the county on this website later in February.

Finally, the board approved replacing the boiler at 822 Douglas Street which is being remodeled and will eventually be used to house Douglas County administrative offices and the license bureau. 

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