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

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Tobacco ordinance passes unanimously


January 2, 2020

Several Carlton County health staff and about 25 interested citizens attended the Adjourned Meeting of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners on December 23 to support and finally clap when the new Tobacco Ordinance was passed unanimously. It is believed that this ordinance will decrease tobacco and vaping use by young adults by controlling access to those products to those under the age of 21.

Nine letters of support came to the Commissioners from such sources as the MN Department of Health, the American Lung Association, and Essentia to name a few. Those attending spoke freely at the hearing in support of the move. Only one retailer spoke of his concern that restrictions on menthol cigarette sales, a mainstay of the cigarette retail trade locally, will impact those businesses’ bottom line.

CEO and Administrator of the Cloquet Hospital voiced his support, “This will do more to help the health of our community than any other move I can think of.”

Among the many points made in favor of banning sales to those under 21, it was noted that 95% of current smokers started before the age of 21.

The ordinance language was drafted by the Public Health Law Center, reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office, and reviewed by many of the County staff before the hearing.

The last County Board meeting of the fiscal year sets salaries of the Commissioners, other Elected Officials, per diem meeting rates for the Commissioners and other County Commissions and Committees. Commissioner salaries drew intense discussion, with Chair Brenner making a motion for a 2.25% increase with Bodie seconding it. Brenner commented that it is not out of line with salary contracts with other County employees.

Commissioner Gary Peterson pointed out that the increase of Social Security payments was at 1.6% for the coming year and it was the amount that many of the County residents lived on. Brenner disagreed. He felt that the comparison was not of equal situations.

Brenner posed the question, “Why would we follow a supposed increase of 1.6% for Social Security recipients when the Federal government manipulates the real figure by upping each person’s contribution to Medicare coverage?”

In a final vote, the 2.25% salary increase for Commissioners in the 2020 budget cycle was approved 3-2 with Peterson and Proulx voting in the negative. The County Attorney and Sheriff salaries were raised by the same percentage as was all department heads not represented by a union.

Regular Commissions and Committees were raised to $60 per meeting with the exception of the Board of Adjustment which was raised to $65. Mileage is set at 58 cents following Federal guidelines and Commissioner per diems and reimbursement for meals remain at the same figures.

Ben Anderson of Straightline Surveying was appointed as the new County Surveyor to replace long time office holder Bill Hayden.

A six month building lease extension was granted for the ACT Team. Plans had been set for the ACT Team to be moved into the old Cloquet City Hall recently purchased by the County. County Coordinator Dennis Genereau explained that the remodeling cost of the facility for County use exceeded the amount the County could spend without calling for bids. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the 6-month lease extension.

County Economic Development Director Mary Finnegan received Board approval for a $70,000 loan to Sweetly Kismet/Olive Juice Properties/MN’s Candy Warehouse to be located behind Kwik Trip at the Carlton Junction. Finnegan commented that it is based on a current business model now in operation in Savage, MN. It was said that this business would be the largest or second largest candy maker in Minnesota and have an investment of $1 million. Ready to open in April, this facility would benefit from the proposed new waterline project from Carlton along Hwy 210.

McGough Construction Company has been hired to oversee the Barnum Garage construction. The Carlton County Board approved hiring the McGough company as a Construction Manager at Risk. This would mean McGough would hold all contracts with the subcontractors and thus they would be taking all the risk. The building materials would be purchased tax free due to the County being a tax free governmental unit. This would put some risk for the County.


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