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New trail marking system will help First Responders find injured, lost

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news Park Rapids, 56470
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A new forest trail marking system will assist emergency personnel locate lost and injured people in the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

In approving the expenditure of up to $1,000 to update dispatch computer grids and to train 911 operators, the Hubbard County Board expressed hope similar markings will soon be available on all cross-country ski trails and ATV trails throughout the county and neighboring regions.

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"Why wouldn't we do the whole system if we have to respond to 911 calls?" questioned board chair Lyle Robinson. "If you're a First Responder and it's your district you gotta go."

Minnesota DNR Area Forest Supervisor Mike Carlstrom said the system, based on GPS locator points was necessary "to get people to them as fast as you can. It's critical."

"I'm not opposed to the system," Robinson said. "I just don't want to do it half-assed. It's only a part of our trail system. Has anybody died there yet?"

No, Carlstrom said. "We've had quite a number of injuries and we've had a great deal of difficulty getting First Responders to them" but no one had died waiting for help.

Carlstrom and Max Bradley, a representative of the Paul Bunyan Motorcycle Riders Club, were advocating the marking system at last week's regular meeting of the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners.

Eventually the DNR will establish a statewide trail marking system for off road vehicles, equestrian, bicycle and hiking trails with similar signing and placement guidelines, using global position system locator signs based on the U.S. National Grid coordinates.

"In 2005 the Department of Homeland Security recommended use of the USNG to provide a nationally consistent grid reference system for all spatial referencing, mapping and reporting," according to materials presented to the board.

The funds will be used to upload the intersection coordinates into the 911 databases and train operators to recognize intersection numbers.

An injured or lost party will need to relay the intersection designation, a series of numbers, to emergency personnel when seeking help.

In other action, the board:

-Approved awarding a bid to repair seepage damage to the historic old courthouse to Dave Barrett Construction of Park Rapids for $9,750, to be paid out of a building fund.

The courthouse basement has been collecting mold due to moisture buildup and condensation from the exterior basement walls for years.

"There was ice coming through the rock formation," maintenance supervisor Lee Gwiazdon reported to the board after inspecting the building. "It was an eye opener this spring."

The building sides will be excavated, cleaned, dried and sprayed with insulation, then back filled.

-Sent a directive out to county departments that taxpayers will not buy their drinking water any longer. It was discovered that some departments were purchasing bottled water with county funds for employees who don't like city water because they said they can taste the chlorine in it.

"There's a tap; they can run their own water," was the board consensus. If they prefer rural well water, they can bring their own from home.

-Heard that Arvig Communications will rebate some phone charges for a month because of "phone noise" that has been occurring this spring. Coordinator Jack Paul said the noise has occurred when Arvig switched a vendor for services.

-Heard that once again, request for government assistance went up in April by 10 cases, but Social Services Director Daryl Bessler said he hopes requests will plateau with summer employment available in the region due to agriculture, service and summer resort jobs.

Bessler said he has heard $16 million in federal stimulus funding will be available to Minnesota agencies for social service programs.

-Awarded a bid for auction services to North Country Auction, the low bidder, for five upcoming county auctions.

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