County board buys Carlton building
In a surprise move with no earlier public discussion on the proposal, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved last week the purchase of a 3,000 square foot building in the city of Carlton, a block south of the present courthouse. The building is owned by Paul Vernon and is adjacent to the Carlton Post Office. "I think this is a good decision," Commissioner Gary Peterson explained. "The rent we are charged for two buildings to house Extension and Soil and Water is $3,000 a month and could go to paying off this building in four to five years."
For many years, the present buildings for Extension and Soil and Water have been found too small, not handicapped accessible, and difficult to handle new program needs. Soil and Water, spearheaded by former Commissioner Jim Nynas, has been working on plans for a USDA loan to build a new building on the Transportation building site in conjunction with Extension and Twin Lakes Township. Plans in that direction appear on hold.
Comments came during the meeting that Soil and Water had said the purchased building, 10 years old, would not be suitable for their program needs. Chairman Dick Brenner responded, "Then they should come to the Committee of the Whole meeting and voice their concerns. We as a county pay for their expenses at the current inadequate, they say, building. We have bought a better building for their needs. Come and tell us what's the problem."
The former license and county nursing building in Cloquet on Ave B has been sold and is now on the tax rolls again. It had been vacant since the new human services building had been completed. Revenues from that sale will cover two-thirds of the Vernon building purchase. The purchase of this building precedes the next steps of remodeling at the present courthouse to alleviate congestion during court session and security issues.
Most of the Vernon building was to be available for county use February 1. One office area will be left to Paul Vernon until August 31. The county is paying $2,200 a month rent for two months until the sale is closed.
During the discussion of the Vernon building sale, County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said, "Restorative Justice would need some of the space in this newly acquired building. It is an expanding program that needs that space." Restorative Justice is an approach to resolving legal issues whereby the victims of crime take an active role in the judicial process while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions. They do this through apologizing, returning stolen property, and community service. Genereau added, "Restorative Justice shows the highest success for victim resolution while making the offender accountable."
In other business, the board approved $3,000 to help fund a housing study of the East Central Minnesota region. Recommended by the Economic Development Department, a "formalized housing study must demonstrate need and market demand for housing grant opportunities," EDA Administrator Connie Christenson explained. "Carlton County will benefit when applying for additional state and Federal housing grants." The last housing study was in 2011.
The Moose Lake Star-Gazette was chosen as the official county newspaper for publishing required statutory legals. They were the low bid.
Jacqueline Mattson of 1164 CR 4, Wrenshall, in Silver Brook Township was given a Conditional Use Permit to operate an auto repair, towing and sales business. Restrictions were numerous including seven off-street parking locations for vehicles waiting for repair, no more than 12 vehicles waiting for repair at one time, natural or artificial screening provided by July 1, repairs conducted inside the garage, and business hours Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.