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

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

County board reviews new building plans


January 25, 2018

The Pine County Board of Commissioners reviewed architectural drawings for the new county facility in Sandstone at its regular meeting in Askov Tuesday, January 16.

Commissioner Josh Mohr of Pine City said, “We had a lot of discussion with IT.” The technology hub for the building will be moved to the basement as requested by that department, he said.

The plans include central lobby and multipurpose training spaces with a clerestory, or windows above the roof level, for ambient lighting.

Mohr explained the facilities committee is looking into the cost effectiveness of modular office walls instead of sheet rock.

Commissioner Steve Chaffee of Hinckley asked, “So what’s the next step?”

“Today would be the day to say something’s not right,” said Commissioner Steve Hallan of Pine City, adding that input could be considered in the next couple of days. He said the project would go to bid next.

“How much input has there been from staff?” Chaffee asked.

Jodi Blesener, Pine County employee and a member of the committee, attended the Tuesday meeting and indicated she has been able to give input throughout the process. Hallan thanked her for her participation.

Mohr said, “Small things can still change” regarding the plans.

Commissioner Matt Ludwig of Sandstone said they could start thinking of names for the new building.

Hallan asked, “Anybody on the board have misgivings?”

Ludwig said they really had to vet the portable versus permanent office walls decision.

County Administrator David Minke pointed out the plans for the building incorporate flexibility with offices surrounding the central public spaces, Veterans Services and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) spaces.

Minke said after the final presentation, he looks for the project to be bid out in February. He also said the name of the building would be on the facilities committee agenda on February 7.

Plan for dissolution funds

Kathy Filbert, Pine County community health services administrator, outlined a plan to the board for using funds being sent to the county now that the joint public health department with Kanabec County has been fully dissolved. Pine County voted to form its own public health department last year.

Mainly, Filbert hopes to use the funds for expanding the county’s home visiting program. She said when the department meets its goals, it will be eligible for more funding mid-2019.

With the formation of its own department, Pine County has seen an increase in WIC participants. Filbert said dissolution funds could pay for a home visiting supervisor for three to four years.

In the short term, the department is facing a year of preparation for accreditation, and adding a supervisor would also help with succession planning and building the public health infrastructure.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Supervisor Becky Foss added the third priority is technology and training. She said if commissioners don’t agree with the plan, their concerns could be brought to their March meeting.

“We believe our sustenance plan is solid,” said Foss.

Trafficking forum held

Bonnie Rediske, Pine County social worker and member of the county’s multidisciplinary team, recapped for the board the human trafficking forum held at Grand Casino Hinckley January 10.

Hallan said, “I think it’s awesome we have people like you working for us.”

Rediske said next she wants to “get some community engagement with our parents.” She said also that schools are now recognizing the need to educate youth about healthy relationships.

Other business

Several county positions were approved for recruitment and hiring by the county board as recommended by the personnel committee: a victim services coordinator for the County Attorney’s Office, a public health or registered nurse for the Family Home Visiting and Child and Teen Check-up programs in Health and Human Services, and a part-time secretary and full-time dispatch positions for the Sheriff’s Office along with backfilling any vacancy caused by an internal promotion.

In addition, the county approved the hiring of three part-time correction officers and a cultural community coach, Lawrence Staples, for 2018, a position half-funded by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The county board approved a Joint Powers Agreement Amendment for work release services, moving the state’s cap from $50,000 to $100,000 to accommodate an increase in the work release population.

The board established minimum salaries of $77,000 and $80,000 for the county sheriff and county attorney as required by statute. Minke said the limits do not impact the incumbents.


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