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Portable toilet request could lead to increased costs countywide

The Hubbard County Commissioners, in a relatively brief meeting Tuesday, discussed whether the county should become the administrator of portable commodes each summer, installing and maintaining restrooms at some or all of its 22 public accesses.

Lake Kabekona residents had requested a county-maintained latrine, the county currently maintaining restrooms on Fish Hook and Stony Lake.

Cost of this is an estimated $450 per season, per site.

"If we do it at one, we will have more requests," Commissioner Cal Johannsen noted. "We turned one down in Lake Emma. At this point, it could cost us a lot of money."

Sheriff Cory Aukes suggested talking to lake associations on the matter.

Board chair Matt Dotta suggested a policy be drafted as to which sites warrant this.

"It should be defined by the number of parking places," Commissioner Vern Massie said. "And there might be complaints from neighbors," he cautioned.

The commissioners subsequently referred the matter to the Park Board, asking them to develop criteria, including proximity to neighboring homes. The Park Board did not recommend providing portable restrooms previously.

- Approved a 100-foot right-of-way utility easement for MinnKota Power, an overhead electric transmission line to cross approximately 20 tax-forfeited acres in Lake Alice Township.

Cost of the easement is $34,575.

- Reported aggregate surfacing on CSAH 4 was expected to be complete Tuesday with work soon to begin on Henrietta Township roads and CSAH 25.

- Discussed funding sources for the removal of the old water tower in Park Rapids, noting its removal costs may decrease the apportionment of tax-forfeited land funds to cities and townships.

- Reminded commissioners and the public that discussion on the Public Works’ five-year construction plan will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 13 in the Government Center’s third floor board meeting room and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 20 at the Helga Town Hall.

- Authorized a Verizon Wireless lease proposal for the possible construction of a cell phone tower in Crow Wing Lake Township on tax forfeited land.

Monthly payments of $400 are proposed by Verizon for the parcel, a lack of cell phone reception in the area the factor.

Land commissioner Skip Lohmeier questioned if this is the proper use on tax forfeited land.

"We can’t grow that much timber on a 100-by-100 piece," Johannsen said of rental amount.

- Approved an intent to partner with Cass and Beltrami counties and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of both counties to initiate an application for a "One Watershed, One Plan" grant for the Leech Lake Watershed.

The recommendation came from SWCD district manager Julie Kingsley, who explained BWSR   (Board of Water and Soil Resources) is encouraging moving away from county boundaries to watersheds, as a better way for resource protection.

Cass County Environmental Services will act as fiscal agent for the Leech Lake River Plan. Cass County comprises 79.9 percent of the Leech Lake River watershed, Hubbard county 19.7 percent and Beltrami .4 percent.

The local units of government will participate in the formation of advisory committees, a policy committee and planning workgroup to develop and implement the plan.

Massie voted in opposition.

- Authorized an increase in the number of part-time  sheriff’s department deputies from eight to 10.

The complement includes a chief deputy sheriff, two sergeants, one full-time Sentence to Serve crew leader and one part-time STS assistant.

The department employs 19 deputies (11 full-time road deputies, including a Nevis deputy, trails deputy and transport deputy and emergency management appointments along with up to 10 part-time road deputies).

The staff includes a drug task force officer, two investigators, up to three boat and water deputies (depending on grant dollars), up to four licensed bailiffs, up to two non-licensed bailiffs, a jail/dispatch administrator, an assistant jail administrator, one jail programmer, 2.5 full-time equivalent clerical personnel, 20 full-time dispatchers/jailers and up to 18 part-time dispatcher/jailers.

- Agreed to sell a sheriff’s department squad car with "mechanical issues" on the open market, as opposed to competitive bids, "which will save the county money," Sheriff Aukes told commissioner.

"This should be on a case-by-case basis, discretionary," Dotta said as opposed to a blanket policy.

- Approved the tax forfeited land sale appraisals, some of which have been offered previously, some new.

- Reviewed a Department of Natural Resources report on land acquisition in the county, the final total to be 1,311 acres in Badoura, White Oak, Nevis and Crow Wing Lake townships.

"Acquisition of these tracts will help consolidate state ownership, provide public access, prevent forest fragmentation, enhance management efficiency and protect rare species and plant communities," Richard Peterson, forest legacy coordinator stated.

- Congratulated Extension 4-H coordinator Mari Jo Lohmeier on receiving the University of Minnesota Dean’s Distinguished Award.

Commissioners noted the number of 4-H youth has increased 50 percent under her leadership and the Ambassador program, building relationships with youth to provide them with leadership opportunities, has grown appreciably.

- Approved an amendment to a hunting cabin lease in Clay Township, removing two names and adding Michael and Zack Hansen.

-Confirmed the hours for Stony Lake Beach to be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A new sign is necessary.

- Accepted the resignations of Lisa Avenson, assistant accountant, recognizing 19 years of service to the county; Renee Weeks as Social Services financial assistance supervisor, with six years of service, and custodian Donald Spragg. Curt Hadrava, a maintenance II employee at the north Public Works shop, retired June 10.