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County Board Meeting September 1

Posted: 09/02/2020

Category: County Board, Departments

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Douglas County Board of Commissioners continued to financially support local nonprofits and partners at its September 1 board meeting. It also moved forward on an offer to purchase land on Pilgrim Point, learning a more precise cost of remodeling the building at 822 Douglas Street, finalizing details of an intersection construction project in La Grand Township that may include a roundabout.  

Commissioners learned the county’s 2019 audit, done by Clifton Larson Allen LLP, showed exceptional work by County Auditor Char Rosenow and her staff.

And the county generously increased the amount of CARES Act funds for county businesses and nonprofits which have been negatively impacted by coronavirus.

Annual Appropriation Requests

Brad Brejcha, from the Douglas County Ag Association, also known as the Fair Board, requested and was granted $15,000 for 2021. Brejcha explained the money is used for the annual Douglas County Fair. The 2020 fair was canceled due to COVID but Brejcha told the commissioners they already have a slogan for next year. Twice the fun in 21.

Angela Jacobson appeared on behalf of the Osakis Economic Development Association. She explained how the association assists in the promotion of local business. The EDA asked for and was given $2,278.

Next up was Gail Nordstrom with the Viking Library System.  The Douglas County Library is part of this system and commissioners heard how they are working to maintain quality service despite COVID 19 restrictions. Nordstrom said the use of e-content and virtual programming is strong, mobile hotspots are available for checkout and doorstop delivery for Bookmobile patrons has been a big hit. She requested and was granted $138,314 for 2021.

West Central Initiative’s Rebecca Lynn Peterson, Director of Development and Associate Planner Jill Amundson shared information on the wide impact West Central Initiative has on its counties, including Douglas. They asked for and were given $8,250.

Douglas County Library

Douglas County Librarian Dawn Dailey shared the good news she has secured a $34,680 grant to help senior citizens become more tech savvy. She will purchase 15 laptops and 15 iPads and provide training to show seniors how to do basic functions like send email, use Facetime and other communication apps, and participate in online meetings. These functions are especially important during a pandemic.

Veteran Service Officer

Jake Turner asked the board to accept a $100.00 donation made by James and Pat McKay to be used for veterans in need.

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson shared input from the Roundabout Open House held August 20. Most of the people who offered opinions said it’s about time the county addresses this intersection.

About 20 people attended the evening open house to learn more about the proposed roundabout at the intersection of CSAH 8 and CSAH 40 in La Grand Township. Erickson told the board the people who are against the roundabout are adamantly opposed. Their reasons include: they prefer a 4 way stop, which one said will slow traffic just fine; there are other intersections that are more dangerous; the 4 way stop is less expensive and you can’t trust people to yield to traffic already in the roundabout.  

The proposed roundabout is just part of a major overhaul of the intersection which will be redesigned to improve site lines and better align the roadways. The cost is expected to be $1.6 million. It is part of the County Highway Improvement Plan and will be paid for through the special half-cent local option sales tax that was adopted in 2014. A roundabout will cost about $6,000 more than a 4 way stop. Erickson told the commissioners those in favor of the roundabout believe it will slow traffic down on CSAH 40 and will also eliminate the need for a complete stop which is advantageous for bigger trucks. The intersection was recently the scene of a fatal crash and one person attending the open house asked, “what’s the cost of a life”?

Commissioners have not given final approval for the roundabout but have determined there will not be a public hearing.  The overall project is scheduled to go out for bids next spring.

 

Coordinator’s Office

Coordinator Heather Schlangen informed the board the employee filling the payroll technician trainee position they approved one year ago has successfully completed her training and she asked the board to remove the trainee title which would result in a pay grade change from a 5 to a 6.  The board approved the request.

Auditor Treasurer

Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow asked commissioners to approve an application by the Lake Oscar Association to conduct a raffle in early 2021 and she asked they approve an application by NWTF Christina Lake Longbeards to conduct a raffle at Arrowwood Resort in 2021. Commissioners approved both applications.

Rosenow also presented the county board with the first round of requests by Douglas County department heads for CARES Act funding. The requests are primarily technology for telecommuting and equipment for disinfecting and cleaning in county owned buildings.

The county received $4.6 million in CARES Act funding which can be distributed to businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by COVID. The county increased the amount set aside for those needs from $2.5 million to $3.2 million. The deadline for applications from businesses and nonprofits is September 4.

Other Action

To provide an opportunity for all Douglas County residents to enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, commissioners voted to enter into an agreement with a developer to make an offer to buy property on Lake Ida known as Pilgrim Point.

In a purchase agreement approved Tuesday, September 1, commissioners made an offer of $1 million for 4.2 acres of land which it will use as a recreational area and will get another 4 acres (the point of the property) donated as part of the deal.

“This will be a treasure for our residents and visitors,“ said Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush who explained the details of the agreement to the board members. “The county’s share will include thousands of feet of beautiful beach which people can get to by boat or by driving or biking into the proposed public recreational area.”  

The county will purchase 4.2 acres from United Church of Christ which has owned the property since 1950. The donated 4 acres will come from Pilgrim Point Shores, LLC.

“The goal is to have a public space,” said Commissioner Charlie Meyer who has supported purchasing the property since the idea first surfaced. “This is a great value for the county.” 

The developer and church must formally accept or reject the purchase agreement by September 30.

Commissioners approved moving forward with contracts for an architect and construction manager to do the work necessary to solicit bids for remodeling at the county owned property at 822 Douglas Street. Preliminary estimates are $3.8 million for work necessary to create a Douglas County Administration Building.  

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