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

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

It's all about the coronavirus


The workings of government have changed as the pandemic spreads at an unknown rate throughout the nation. Physical participation in Carlton County meetings and whether any County building was open to the public were two of many public safety issues discussed at the Carlton County Board of Commissioners Adjourned Session on Monday, March 23.

Public attendance was discouraged but a number of people participated through a website set up for any who wished to listen to the meeting. Commissioner Dick Brenner chose to use that connection to “be there” and vote. He commented via phone earlier that he had participated in several meetings of late with phone conferencing and had found them effective considering the times.

The Courthouse in Carlton is open yet there are few people in the hallways. Outside of the Courts which handle only the basic caseload required by the law, the Register of Deeds and Probation may be visited by appointment.

“Carlton County is a hot spot for services,” commented County Coordinator Dennis Genereau. “At the moment Courthouse services that you cannot get in St. Louis County can be obtained in Carlton. Requests for marriage licenses are available, for example. Our Transfer Station remains open and customers come from other areas, pay the fees, and leave their load. The burden has not been over whelming.”

Genereau reported that the Motor Vehicle Office in the Health and Human Services building in Cloquet remains closed. Work is proceeding to divide the traffic for the vehicle licensing operation to one section of the front door and funnel those people looking for licenses and plates by a corridor to the counter. It is hoped that the work will be completed soon.

Director Dave Lee of HHS reported that anyone using their services could speak to staff members separated by a window of glass. Phone contact is recommended.

“There is going to be long term effects from the Coronavirus,” explained Lee. “People normally using our services will suffer from stress, strained family issues, lack of necessary therapy, and medication challenges, to name a few. The services provided at the jail can be impacted. We have to wait and see.”

There have been no staff reductions at this time. Many of the County staff that can work at home are being reassigned there. Staff caring for elderly parents or going through a pregnancy, for example, are asked to work from home until the danger passes.

“Please follow the health guidelines being promoted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control),” said Commissioner Gary Peterson via a phone interview. “I heard a line that makes sense for each of us living up North: Six feet of our distance determines our existence. We should all follow that advice for ourselves and anyone we come into contact with.”

Work continues on the new jail project. The County Board gave approval to hire consultant Mike Grebel to study and provide an answer to the public’s concerns on two subjects with the current jail services:

1. If a jail is not built and the current facility is used as a 72 hour holding area prior to transfer to a State-approved facility, what is the cost of housing Carlton County inmates in other regional facilities?

2. What are the costs of housing and using additional programming for Carlton County inmates while using ARC (Arrowhead Regional Corrections)?


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