Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed 

County to install new phone system


An obsolete, 13-year-old phone system for the Carlton County Courthouse will be replaced by a Telcologix (Avaya) VolP based phone system estimated to cost $93,774 the Carlton County Board decided at their February 12 regular meeting. Cost of maintenance on the current system averages about $11,000 a year and has a host of user issues.

Funding will come from current IT (Information Technology) budgeted funds, by planned savings from current purchases in this budget year, postponing other projects, and financial assistance from the Court System and Probation.

"The Community Services Building installed similar equipment from the same vendor," Peter Gould, IT Director, explained. "With Telcologix solution, we would be able to use parts and equipment left over from the Community Services Building installation and possibly connect the two phone systems."

Phone calls routed from the courthouse to Extension or transportation receive a busy signal periodically as a recurring problem. Programming is part of the current maintenance cost and now needs to be updated. Service calls are addressed by Paw Communications and one such service call cost the county about $5,800 in 2009. Using the current phone system at Extension, only one person can call out of the building at one time.

Hardware and software maintenance costs would be $1,500 rather than $11,000+ a year. "Currently, during the past year," Gould explained, "I have been purchasing used phones from Ebay to keep our current users functioning."

Installation will take about two months.

David Moeller, attorney for Minnesota Power, was present to answer questions about the plan to build a 500kV transmission line from Manitoba hydroelectric sources to Duluth. Three corridors being considered may possibly pass through the northeast corner of Carlton County. The finish of construction if approved will occur in 2020. Planning continues in hopes of keeping electric charges low for Minnesota Power customers.

WINDOW Victim Services of Hinckley has been hired to provide services to Carlton County residents previously served by the former Domestic Sexual Abuse Family Program of Carlton County. Sue Wojciehowski, over 30 year advocate for that program, retired in April 2012 because of health issues and the program was discontinued. The Carlton County Court system reflected, "As an advocate, Sue has touched the lives of many of our people." WINDOW will be filling that gap shortly with a new local advocate at the courthouse.

The Carlton County Board gave their blessing for Moose Lake's Safe Routes to School proposal. Five sidewalks in town will be upgraded for students to walk or bike to school. Auditor Paul Gassert remarked, "Why upgrade those sidewalks with these funds when Moose Lake is planning on building a new school south of town by ALCO?" Community Economic Development Director Pat Oman responded, "We know a good plan for building a school is being worked on and will be voted on in May. Three other bond referendums have failed. Who knows if the current bond will pass."

The GIS/clerical position is opening up in the Land Department due to retirement. County Coordinator Dennis Genereau and Land Commissioner Greg Bernu are developing a job description for a new hire in which some staff time for that position will be out of the office on in-the-field responsibilities.

A hearing was held for public input on a new off-sale liquor license for TJ's Country Corner in Mahtowa. No verbal or written correspondence was received. Tom Bislow, owner, stated for the record, "The dry grocery business has changed and taking this move will help keep TJ's in Mahtowa." The county board voted to approve the license.

Addressing the public needs after the Flash Flood of 2012 continues. Coordinator Genereau requested, and it was approved, to hire more Lutheran Social Services case managers to handle the relief caseload. Genereau commented, "There are 200 cases that have not been looked at and it will take about $25-$30,000 for four to six months to address this need. Spring is coming and we are facing a crunch time for construction." Deadlines have been extended and work continues.


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