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

By Dan Reed 

SWCD to search for new space


"If you are not happy with the current space you are using in the city of Carlton," stated Chairman Marv Bodie of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners at a Committee as a Whole gathering, "by all means, you should look for your own space."

Board member Jim Nynas of the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) replied, "We are going to go out and find a space to lease that will fulfill our needs." This decision culminated after several years of the SWCD and the county discussing options for building new, renting different spaces, and lately using space in the Vernon Building next to the Carlton Post Office and recently purchased by the county.

SWCD member Nynas asked the County Board directly, "How do you feel we are performing for the money that you fund us?" Commissioner Dick Brenner responded, "You do a great job with the money you get."

During the last legislative sessions, the SWCD of Carlton County has worked to get a levying authority for their work. They stress the case that they are elected on the general election ballot but depend on federal, state and county sources to fund their work.

Nynas asked, "We would like to ask for county support for the SWCD having levying authority by Minnesota Statute." Brenner responded, "I am on the Association of Minnesota Counties governmental affairs committee and have no problem bringing up the levy authority proposal at our next meeting."

Rent now for the SWCD office space in Carlton is most of $1,500 a month.

The half percent Carlton County sales tax is bringing in more revenue than expected. Highway Engineer Mike Tardy reported that $75,000 were May's receipts and $130,000 came in June. It is estimated that between $1.25 million and $1.5 million will be available the first year. A number of Cloquet and Thomson road projects are being moved from the 2017 construction list to 2016 because of this trend.

Commissioner Gary Peterson asked, "How are we doing on the 13 roads we had on the list to fix with this dedicated funding?" Milt Hagen of the Highway Department explained, "We have done several on the list already but the going will be slower on other projects on the list. Three of the roads need costly rebuilds before paving can be installed."

County Road 6 west of Barnum has been completed but has raised concerns among area motorists. The County Highway Department explained that the road project had started as soon as the road limits were off.

This year the spring thaw had dragged on so long that the frost was not quite out of the roadbed. Heavy truck traffic during the remilling and pavement installation had aggravated some of the soft spots.

After the initial work was completed a separate crew came in the excavate, haul, gravel, and repave about 30 spots on the roadbed. This type of road repair uses what is called a "French drain." These stretches are uneven and will settle and shift during the coming seasons. Next summer, the County Highway Department has scheduled "chip sealing" these problem areas. Some grinding will shave the high spots. It is promised a smooth road bed will remain.

A food vendor has asked to set up at the county's Chub Lake Park. A fee will be charged and the garbage will have to be hauled. Rental guidelines will have to be established. Brenner commented, "This is the only one that has asked — let's try it for the rest of the season."

Osten Berg, fraud investigator for Carlton County and Pine County Health and Human Services, reported there were 110 cases of fraud investigated in Carlton County last year. The basic outcome is that people found guilty of abusing the system lose their benefits. Criminal action seldom occurs.

Over five years $105,000 in savings has been realized. Overpayments of $140,000 have been returned. Berg explained the program costs are covered by federal and state grants.


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