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County Board Meeting September 15

Posted: 09/15/2020

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners approved the first round of grant requests for businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. The county received $4.6 million in federal funds through the CARES Act to help offset expenses incurred due to the pandemic. $3.2 million of that will go directly to businesses and nonprofits. The city of Alexandria contributed a share of its CARES Act funding making the total available $3.55 million.

The county entered into an agreement with the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission and its director Nicole Fernholz to distribute the funds to qualifying businesses and nonprofits. A committee reviews the applications and brings them to the board for approval. At the September 15 meeting funds were approved for 85 businesses and nonprofits. The amounts ranged from $1,079 to a maximum of $50,000. Sixty-four percent of the applicants are from Alexandria, and 36% are from other areas of the county.

The board also approved internal requests for CARES Act funds that will be paid out of the $1.4 million remaining for the county.

Board Chair Keith Englund thanked members of the committee for their hard work so far. Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow and Commissioner Tim Kalina are members of that committee. More approvals are expected at a future board meeting.   

Horizon Public Health

Horizon Public Health Supervisor Jessica Peterson asked commissioners to approve a one time 25% reduction in fees businesses pay for environmental health services. Peterson says the pandemic has impacted the food and beverage establishments and lodging facilities and Horizon Public Health would like to lower their fee schedule for 2021.  Peterson told the commissioners HPH can dip into its fund balance to cover most of the losses.

Land & Resource Management

Director Dave Rush updated the board on the One Watershed, One Plan guiding principles. The concept is simple. One Watershed, One Plan is a bottom up approach for water management. It increases interaction with counties, soil and water conservation districts and watershed districts to address the largest threats and provide the greatest environmental benefit unique to each watershed.   

Rush also asked commissioners to approve a resolution to adopt and implement the Pomme De Terre River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan. Douglas County is a member of the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board which submitted the plan for state approval in June.

The very northwest corner of Douglas County is in the Pomme de Terre River watershed.  The Christina/Pelican Lakes Area is one of the five priority areas where the majority of the work will be completed in the next 10 years. One goal is to achieve a phosphorous reduction in direct drainage runoff of 59 pounds a year to Lake Christina.

Rush also explained the Long Prairie River Watershed Memorandum of Agreement between the counties of Douglas, Morrison, Todd, Otter Tail and Wadena. The parties have a common interest in implementing a comprehensive watershed management plan in the Long Prairie River Watershed. The board agreed to move forward and appointed Commissioner Charlie Meyer to the Policy Committee. Douglas County will serve as the grant administrator and be the primary point of contact.

The final plat for Hermitage Hill is now approved. Roger Rosengren, the applicant, plans a one lot plat from the north half of the nearly 10-acre property in La Grand Township.

Murphy Run developer Jeffrey Brown received permission to proceed with his proposed two lot subdivision in Osakis Township.

Public Works

Public Works Director Tim Erickson and Park Superintendent Brad Bonk asked the board to approve a request by Osakis schools to use Lake Brophy County Park for a cross country meet on Thursday, September 17. Social distancing measures will be in place for the racers and staff needed to conduct the meet.

Social Services

Community Human Services Director Laurie Bonds asked for permission to sign a contract with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to provide adult mental health and community support service in 2021.  The board approved that request.

Auditor/Treasurer

Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow asked the board to set the preliminary levy at $29,143,109.00 which is a 2.5% increase from 2020. She also asked commissioners to approve the budget hearing for 6:30 p.m. on December 3rd in the county board room.

Pope/Douglas Solid Waste

Commissioners approved the issuance of $5,560,000 in general obligation solid waste revenue bonds to finance the acquisition of land and improvements to accommodate the landfill mining operation for the Pope/Douglas waste-to-energy facility located in Alexandria.

Assessor

And finally, congratulations to Douglas County Assessor Keith Albertsen. The board appointed him to another four-year term and thanked him for doing a very good job.

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