It is now apparent that the construction of a new Jail/Justice Center will be the most significant Carlton County project since the Courthouse was built in 1922. County Coordinator Dennis Genereau related that one of the candidates for a new Carlton County Auditor/Treasurer position shared that observation during the job interviews earlier in the day before the Carlton County Board Adjourned Session on April 26.

  With that as a backdrop, Genereau requested permission from the County Board to study the costs, strengths, and possibilities of a new complex being built next to the Transportation Building. In the near future with electricity and sewer already available at the site, the new Twin Lakes waterline from Carlton will soon make the last necessary service a reality.

  “It was quite evident from the last Jail Study Committee of the Whole meeting on April 19 that the site next to the Transportation Building was being considered by the County Board,” Genereau commented via a phone call, “but there were a lot of questions to which we needed to find answers. Verification is the key to know whether the Courthouse parking lot or the Transportation Building site should be chosen.”

   Core borings of the possible building site are needed to see if a large building could be built cost-effectively on the Transportation Building site. More road traffic and its impact on current traffic flow toward and into Hwy 210 needs to be studied. 

  The site next to the Transportation Building is covered with an evergreen forest. Trees would be removed for a building site, parking and access roads, but the rest of the trees would become a “green space.” A potential Justice Center there would use some of the trees as a natural buffer much like the Fond Du Lac Tribal Community College uses the trees to enhance its beauty. 

  The Carlton Junction area encompassing the Casino, the fuel and truck service area, the hotels, Olsonville, and the current Transportation Building area were a site of gravel and sand deposits left from receding glaciers 10,000 years ago. The building of the Northern Pacific Railroad starting in 1869 used train loads of material from that site to build a railroad bed to the west, hauling away the high sand and gravel hills. The present landscape was left, creating large areas of flat, well drained land to develop.

  With a motion by Bodie and a second by Brenner the County Board unanimously approved a fact-finding mission for the viability of the Transportation Building site to hopefully bring back some answers by the next Jail Study COW Meeting on May 17.

  County Coordinator Genereau added that a lot of work will have to be done to complete manuals on how to maintain the new complex  so that it would look like new in 30 years.

The Minnesota Legislature is in the process of giving Carlton County the power to levy a ½ % sales tax, after a local referendum at the General Election in 2022, to fund the jail project. The MN Department of Corrections has notified Carlton County that the current jail will be forced to close in the middle of 2023 unless a new jail is well on its way to completion. 

  In other County news:

  A final agreement was passed by the County Board to unanimously approve a reorganization of the Extension office in Carlton County and hire an Agriculture Program Coordinator and an Extension office support staff worker, each to work 24 hours a week (.6 FTE) at a maximum cost of about $53,000 or less depending on when the new staff can be hired. 

  The local Extension Committee will work to rebuild the programs offered with close guidance by Minnesota Extension regional staff. Work has started on the budget for the 2022 fiscal year.

  The MN DOT was given permission to house three DOT trucks for the next year at $1750/month at the Barnum garage while a new DOT shop is being constructed at Moose Lake.

  Land Commissioner Greg Bernu was given permission to renew two Agricultural, one billboard, and one fiber optic leases at the same rates and renew hunting cabin leases with a $25 increase on each lease.

  Chairman Proulx and Commissioner Brenner were appointed to be the Commissioner representatives to a joint meeting with the Fond Du Lac Tribal Council members and hosted by Carlton County. Issues to be discussed center around: road speeds within tribal lands,  sale of possible tax forfeit property, programming needs for Native Americans at the new Jail complex, and (on a suggestion from Commissioner Peterson) explore the possibility of getting the ½ % sales tax levied on hotel and restaurant sales at the Casino to bolster the County’s road revenues.


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