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Becker County search for new administrator proceeds slowly

More than 30 applications have been received for the Becker County administrator position, which has been vacant since late July when Brian Berg left to become Clay County administrator.

County Human Resources Director Nancy Grabanski has been doubling as acting county administrator since then.

The applicants will now be sent questionnaires asking about their professional and educational experience, as well as asking several open-ended questions regarding the position.

Based on the answers, a three-person committee will choose 10 or 12 of the most promising applicants to interview.

The committee -- made up of commissioners Larry Knutson and Barry Nelson, as well as County Attorney Mike Fritz -- will recommend three or four finalists to be interviewed by the entire five-member county board.

It's not expected to be a speedy process, Grabanski said, partly because the county is saving money by doing the work in-house, rather than contracting with a professional search firm as has been done in the past.

The board gave verbal approval to the process at a county board meeting on Tuesday.

In other action:

The county moved forward with plans for a highway department substation in the Osage area.

The county will spend about $61,500 on a salt storage building there. A 50-foot by 60-foot "fabric hoop barn" will be constructed, with a base of 8-foot concrete wall panels. The project includes pavement under the building that extends out into a 40-foot apron.

Another $13,200 will be spent to place a 2,000-gallon double-walled fuel tank at the site. Valley Petroleum Equipment of Grand Forks was awarded the bid, although it was about $200 higher than a bid submitted by a Wisconsin company.

The Grand Forks company was chosen because it could install the tank sooner and be better positioned to service the fuel tank if needed.

The fuel tank will serve three snowplow routes and a payloader this winter.

The money is not in the budget and will come from the county environmental fund, as well as from the sale of two existing highway department shops. The county hopes to get the site up and operational yet this autumn.

• Acting to prevent a serious leaking problem on the roof above the jail, the board agreed to spend about $45,000 to repair the roof. The roof also serves as a prisoner exercise area. Herzog Roofing submitted the low bid, and the money is in the budget to pay for it.

• Not very enthusiastically, the board agreed to lease a 2009 Piston Bully, Trail Bully snowmobile trail groomer for $33,000 from Kassbohrer All Terrain Vehicles of Shakopee. The full amount will be deducted from the purchase price if the county opts to buy the groomer next year.

The county had planned to buy a used groomer outright, but opted instead to lease for a year in hopes of landing a state grant that would pay half the purchase cost.

The groomer is needed for the Cormorant lakes area. A local snowmobile club has agreed to buy a drag for the groomer.

The board authorized the parks and recreation department to hire four part-time trail groomer operators this winter, at a total cost of about $16,000.

• Agreed to continue funding the county 4-H coordinator position, which requires a $52,000 annual payment to the University of Minnesota. The 2011 agreement is unchanged from this year's agreement.

• Agreed to spend $1,770 for a one-day training course for human services employees that have to deal with people who have issues with compulsive hoarding.

Renae Reinardy, described as a nationally known expert on hoarding, will conduct the seminar at M State in Detroit Lakes on Nov. 18. Cost for non-county staff is $35.

• The county adjusted its fee schedule for families whose children are placed out of the home by the county. The new schedule is more affordable for low to moderate-income families.