October 10, 2013 | Volume 118, Issue No. 41

Carlton County board seeks input on Sandpiper oil line route

Carlton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Olean, after a lengthy discussion about the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper Oil Pipeline from the Dakota oil fields to the Superior, Wisconsin, terminal, asked for public input by affected landowners. The proposed route runs 41 miles through Carlton County and goes through northern portions of Automba, Kalevala, Skelton, Mahtowa, Blackhoof and Wrenshall townships. A proposed map has not been offered by Enbridge.

Carlton County Land Stewards, very active in the Wrenshall and Blackhoof areas, has been vocal in their opposition to running the line through private organic farming lands. Several landowners throughout the possible corridor have voiced concern and want to ask questions.

The ultimate decision for the route will be determined by the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Minnesota. "We as the Carlton County Board want input from our landowners," Olean commented. "Not every area impacted has voiced their concern or approval. We ask our citizens to be involved and funnel their ideas to us."

Judges Robert Macaulay and Dale Wolf were present at the county meeting of the whole on Octoer 1. They questioned whether Carlton County's participation in the Arrowhead Regional Corrections was cost-effective.

Judge Macaulay started off the conversation. He asked, "Should Carlton County pay an upfront initial payment of $750,000 for continued participation in the Northeast Regional Corrections (NERC) and the Arrowhead Juvenile Corrections (AJC)? We are using only one bed of six designated for our use at NERC."

He continued, "The current proposal commits us to over $2.5 million in county tax dollars. As judges we have found our probation department and other in-house resources are better able to handle criminal cases with better results over the long term. A local approach is more cost-effective and is managed more effectively."

Judge Wolf reinforced this position, "This is the time during budget discussions where you as a board will make an assessment and choose. Look at the facts and figures. Another local approach may be more cost effective."

Commissioner Dick Brenner, representative on the Arrowhead Regional Corrections Board, responded, "I don't know what could be done at this time. We have committed to participate and bond for the updates at the ARC facility, and, in fact, the bonds are being sold at this time."

Judge Macaulay concluded, "We should keep local control. We as judges are inclined to use the NERC and AJC less and less."

Continuing flood relief response issues came up. Dave Lee, head of Health and Human Services, proposed extending the employment of Drew Digby and Tom Paull for another three months at a cost of $15,000 for each position. Lee explained, "We have had difficulty in finding qualified staff to handle the goals of the Mental Health and Behavioral Grant from the Minnesota Legislature. This was set up to handle the emotional needs of flood victims. There are excess monies that can be committed to continuing these two positions. This is to give you a heads up for next week's regular board meeting."

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