Hard-liner Robinson will chair board again in 2010
Hubbard County commissioners want a status report on the environmental violations they have voted to send to the county attorney for prosecution.
"We vote on these things and never hear" how the cases come out, said commissioner Dick Devine. "It doesn't have to be intricate stuff but I'd just like to know" where the cases are.
"Courts are like that," said commissioner Lyle Robinson, "You write 'em a letter and they don't respond. Then you write 'em another letter."
The board voted to send two more files to County Attorney Don Dearstyne for prosecution, but asked Environmental Service Officer Eric Buitenwerf about more than a dozen other cases he's asked to prosecute in the last 18 months.
"I don't know," he responded. "Communication is not good" with the county attorney's office.
Dearstyne, who was not at the board meeting, said Buitenwerf's comments surprised him.
"A lot of time they're working their way through the civil process, which is relatively slow," he said of the cases. "They're (the ESO office) right across the hall. If they need to ask something they just come over and ask. Since Sharon (Martens) left they're a lower priority," he said of the environmental cases. "We get to them when were caught up on everything else. "
Martens retired earlier this year from the prosecutor's office, leaving the department one attorney short. A hiring freeze prevented Dearstyne from replacing her. The board recently authorized him to replace her with a part-time attorney and he is finalizing that hire.
Dearstyne said the process to prosecute homeowners who violate the county's environmental and shoreland ordinances "starts with a letter to the individual and hopefully they take the corrective action. If they don't we follow up with possibly a complaint or something else."
He said his office is happy to provide the board a status report, but has never been asked.
In other board action, the commission:
-Received several donations to the Explorer Program, which Dep. Jeff Stacey leads. It's for teenagers interested in a law enforcement career.
"It's self-supporting," Sheriff Frank Homer said. "This will go toward training, equipment, uniforms, belts, boots" and other gear.
Homer said a former Explorer works part-time in the jail-dispatch area in Hubbard County, so the program is beginning to produce graduates who will be an asset to the county.
Stacey is the contract officer for the city of Nevis, and most of the 10-12 teens in the program are from that area.
The board would like to see more Park Rapids youth involved.
-Nominated Lyle Robinson to be board chair again for 2010. The chairmanship is usually passed around the five-member board, but commissioners seemed uniform in their desire to have Robinson's strong leadership and hard-line stance on spending remain another year while the county is economically challenged.