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County board approves, but defers mini truck ordinance until March 21 meeting

Volunteer members of an environmental program that has been de-funded by the government scolded Hubbard County commissioners Wednesday for withdrawing local support, too.

Giziiibii Resource Conservation & Development volunteers came away with $300 in new membership dues and the appointment of two representatives to its board.

"Giziibii has enough equity to operate at the current budget for three years" after making cutbacks, said chairman Dan McNamee. The agency helps people "protect and develop their economic, natural, and social resources in ways that improve their area's economy, environment, and quality of life," according to the website.

The council represents five counties and three Indian reservations.

The agency has been instrumental in obtaining grant funds for volunteer fire departments to purchase equipment with.

The Crow Wing canoe trail was Giziibii's first completed project, said volunteer Carol Berg.

Volunteer Darol Melby said numerous projects are in the works, "but we still need local governments as sponsors to promote progressive communities."

"We're helping out small groups with a passion to improve their communities," Berg indicated. Projects such as community gardens could be funded, she suggested.

Giziibii used to function under the umbrella of the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, but now contracts with that agency, Berg noted.

Commissioner Lyle Robinson sponsored the vote to restore funding as a good-faith effort to get the group rebounded, even though Kathy Grell questioned the agency's business model and duplication of services by other agencies.

In other action, the board:

n Got good news when the County 12 resurfacing bids were opened for approval. The county will save more than $6 a ton off the price of bituminous pavement that engineering staff had anticipated.

"It was a surprise to me," said county engineer David Olsonawski. "We expected it to be $53 and we got it for $46.80."

Low bid was awarded to Knife River Materials of Bemidji. County 12, which has many rough spots, will be resurfaced from Highway 64 south of Akeley east to the Hubbard/Cass County line this summer.

n Accepted a low quote of $3,881.70 from Bergen's Nursery in Park Rapids to replace 80 trees lost in Heartland Park due to last year's tornado.

The 1-inch trees, a variety of pin oak, birch, basswood and maple, will be planted this spring and paid for from the Parks & Recreation tree fund.

The board also OK'd spending $38,292.36 on containerized seedlings for 2013 planting, paid for out of the Forest Development Fund. Land Commissioner Mark Lohmeier said the Canadian stock in containers has "less transplant shock" than DNR bare root trees the county has purchased in the past. The containerized trees have a plug of dirt around them that preserves the root systems.

n Approved spending more than $40,000 to equip three new sheriff's department vehicles.

The board also approved elevating the department's drug officer to an investigator. The deputy will be a member of a federal task force, which Sheriff Cory Aukes said would reimburse the department for mileage, a computer and overtime, while providing a free vehicle.

"This is in making with what I asked you to do - find revenue - so it's pretty hard to turn it down," commissioner Lyle Robinson said in approving the reclassification and raise in pay.

"It's a benefit to the county," Aukes said of having a federal task force assisting with drug enforcement and other crimes.

n Referred a proposed mini truck ordinance back to the County Attorney and Sheriff to develop a truck inspection plan and a permit fee as part of the ordinance that is likely to pass March 21.

Commissioners will approve the vehicles for county roads only and let townships individually deal with whether they would allow the trucks on township roads

Township officer Russ Johnsrud suggested if the county drafts a model ordinance for townships to follow, they might be more inclined to support the county ordinance. Aukes said enforcement could get tricky if some townships allow the vehicles while others do not. Each township would have to conduct a public hearing before passing such an ordinance.

n Will interview up to three firms March 13 for construction manager of the jail renovation project, which will relocate Hubbard County Social Services offices into the vacant second floor of the Law Enforcement Center.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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