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Juvenile center admissions, like crime and jail occupancy, declines

Plans to light 14 Hubbard County intersections are not sitting well with some rural residents.

"They like the solitude of dark nights," Hubbard County commissioner Don Carlson told assistant county engineer Jed Nordin at last week's board meeting. "Nobody I've talked to think it's going to save any lives."

"It might," Nordin replied. "We're trying to take a proactive approach."

The intersections were chosen for as variety of factors, including accident rates, visibility and traffic counts. State grant monies are paying the $121,000 tab.

"The state has allocated a lot of money for traffic safety projects," Nordin told the board, adding, "they (the lights) are not going to shine at anybody's house."

But when Carlson again questioned the necessity of lighting parts of the countryside, Nordin replied, "It can't hurt."

In other county board action, the commission:

-Agreed to leave the county's burial policy as is, with no inflationary increases.

The county pays $1,350 for "professional services" for indigent burials. Those services include "arrangement, supervision and the conducting of the funeral and administrative services: embalming, other care and preparation of the deceased, use of the facilities and visitation and for the funeral services when required, local transportation for the initial removal of the body, and for local funeral services at internment, the cloth-covered casket or an outside receptacle," said Hubbard County Social Services Director Daryl Bessler.

It also includes grave openings and closings, purchase of a lot and cremation, if desired.

Annually, the county pays the cost of, on average, 15-18 burials, Bessler said.

"These are people that tend to have been on our caseload and didn't have any prepaid burial" plans, he said. "But it could be an infant of a family on public assistance. Typically it's somebody pretty poor on our programs."

In 2009, to date, the county has spent $10,500 on indigent burial services. Bessler said the county usually raises the costs slightly every two years to keep pace with rising funeral home costs.

"We try to encourage prepaid burial but that's not always the case," he said of the clientele that uses public benefits.

-Will purchase two new snowmobiles from 34 East Lawn & Sport for $12,500. The Polaris models will be used by the trails deputy and ATV deputy.

-The county also spent nearly $3,000 on a photocopier and service agreement for the Veterans Service Office; nearly $2,000 on a carpet cleaner for the public works building; $1,500 to outsource the conversion of 1,000+ military discharge aperture cards to CD; spent $900 on a 22/35 ton dual stage truck jack for the public works department; approved the purchase of two in-squad digital video camera kits for $8,600 for two county squad vehicles, two Taser/camera units for $3,600 and three bulletproof vests for nearly $2,000. Most of the law enforcement expenditures will be reimbursed by grant monies.

Additionally the county approved the expenditure of $1,000 to support the school district's "Say Yes to Being Excellent" day. The money will come from drug forfeiture funds, which are to be used expressly for drug and alcohol education, training, enforcement or prosecution.

Commissioner Don Carlson abstained from voting on the expenditure. "I'm a mean old man and I think schools should be teaching reading, writing and arithmetic," he said.

-The board also heard a status report on Northwest Minnesota Juvenile Center in Bemidji, which the county is a financial partner in. Admissions, like crime and the county's jail occupancy, are down. The facility is licensed for 25 youth in the long-term wing and stay an average of seven months. It has a short-term occupancy unit and a secure detention unit that can house up to 16 juveniles.

Administrator William Frey said the facility is running at a 50 percent occupancy rate. "Crime is down," he said.

-The board also voted to send an Environmental Services Office complaint to the county attorney for prosecution. The landowner, who has allegedly failed to cooperate with the office or communicate with it, built a structure 110 percent larger than a variance allowed for property on the Mississippi River corridor and has another violation pending.