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Heritage Living Center tour highlights county board meeting

Construction continues on Phase 1 of Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids. The section on the northwest will be demolished and become the site of an arboretum. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)

Hubbard County Commissioners toured Phase 1 of Heritage Living Center’s construction this week, learning the $14.5 million structure is on budget with residents likely to move in in early April.

"We’re still pushing timelines," director Kurt Hansen said. "But it’s going well. Everyone’s set to make the move."

The new facility, when Phase 2 is complete, will be twice as big as the former, "privacy, autonomy, dignity and overall quality of life" keystones of the buildings, Hansen said.

The two-story wings feature calming colors, "to enable relaxation." Dining rooms will accommodate 16 people, each with a kitchen where meals can be made to order. A fireplace is at the center.

Hansen is hoping to engage the community in providing artwork reflecting the area, and possibly historical photos, which are a proven hit with the Heritage audience.

All the furniture is designed for the senior population, he said. Tables move up and down to accommodate those in wheelchairs, and can be tilted and rolled.

The northwest corner of the grounds will become green space when construction is complete, featuring walkways, ponds, landscaping and gardens.

Therapy whirlpools will be available on each of the floors.

The third floor is home to the building’s utilities, the air exchanger which changes out air twice an hour, the furnace and more.

"Quality of life is paramount," Hansen said of the structures’ components.

In other action, commissioners:

n Approved policies for foster care in Hubbard County. The document addresses a variety of issues - including a driving policy, data privacy, respite care to defining a timeline for removal of children.

This requires foster parents to call before a "crisis," explained Social Services director Tom Sandberg. "We have had situations where foster parents want children immediately removed."

No policies had been in place previously.

n Reported Hubbard County Social Services met Child Protection Allocation measurements, earning additional funding for their initiative.

In 2015, the Legislature appropriated more than $23 million annually for county child protection services and staffing.

Agencies received 80 percent of their full allocation ($116,000 in Hubbard County), 20 percent ($29,000) retained until it was determined counties met the requirements of timely face-to-face contact with alleged child victims and monthly caseworker visits.

Hubbard County met the measures, receiving a check for $94,309, $65,309 above the withheld funding, due to other counties not meeting the requirements.

Hubbard County now has two additional child protection workers and a supervisor.

n Agreed to move forward on  hiring two family-based workers in house, as opposed to contracting with outside sources.

The family-based provider "assists professional staff in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect and other general child welfare work."

Initially, Sandberg told commissioners, he’d anticipated an $80,000 saving. "Now I believe it will be higher."

Also, with the county providing services, the workers will accommodate more families with evening and occasional weekend services.

The provider will also "supervise visitations between parents and children and offer role modeling to assist with healthy and appropriate parenting techniques."

n Approved hiring a part-time social worker for the Parent Support Outreach Program, 25 to 30 families on a waiting list for services, according to Sandberg.

This was a service provided by the county in the past, but the contract was not approved for 2016, Sandberg said. The county can bill medical assistance for child welfare targeted cases.

n Agreed to a policy which allows Social Services to collect fees from parents or guardians for 24-hour out-of-home placement.

Amounts are on a sliding fee scale, based on monthly income and number of children.

"We are losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars for not billing when we’re able," Sandberg told commissioners. Hardship waivers may be issued.

"In Brown County we were bringing in $200,000 to $300,000 a year," Sandberg said of his former job site.

n Reported Social Services’ income maintenance caseloads continue to rise, 3,833 in February. The number of monthly intakes dropped from 128 in January to 117 in February. 

A comparison of average caseloads shows 1,435 cases in February 2006. Eight workers had an average caseload size of 179. In February 2016, cases numbered 3,833 with 12 workers averaging a 319 caseload.

n Approved the timber appraisal report for the April 4 auction. This will include 14 tracts on 482.6 acres with an appraised value of $227,603.

Timber prices appear to be holding steady, land commissioner Chip Lohmeier said.

n Approved a bid of $335,121 from Vogt Dirt Service for aggregate surfacing on Co. Rds. 109, 108, 111, 105, 109, 86, 119 and 90 and CSAHs 49 and 2.

Engineer Dave Olsonawski also requested permission to advertise for bids for additional paving projects on CSAHs 4 and 25, based on the current bituminous prices.

n Approved a quote of $38,032 from Haataja Contracting of Menahga to complete the booking room remodeling in the Law Enforcement Center.

n Also approved a 57-bunk welding upgrade project at the LEC at an estimated cost of $4,200.

n Heard an update from CHI St. Joseph’s Community Health Director RaeAnn Mayer on Community Health Services, given Beltrami County’s recent decision to withdraw from the four-county initiative.

Several options for funding are being weighed, she said, indicating the county may be asked to provide additional funds.

n  Approved a resolution to apportion up to 15 percent ($237,808) of the proceeds from timber harvest on tax forfeited land for forest development purposes.

By state statute, the county can authorize an appropriation of up to 30 percent.

n Tabled a resolution to authorize 13 percent of proceeds from tax forfeited land for parks and recreation areas, pending review of this budget.

n Supported an application to host an AmeriCorps member for the Solid Waste Department.

If Hubbard County is selected, a member of the Green Corps would work for 11 months communicating with large solid waste generators, such as the schools, the Heritage Community, the hospital and clinic.

n Approved, as sponsor, a grant contract agreement with the Department of Natural Resources for maintenance of recreational trails.

The Timberland Dirt Devils will receive $12,000 to maintain the Round River Trail on the east side of Highway 64. Schoolcraft trail groomers will receive $20,000 and Martineau $16,000.

The city of Akeley will act as sponsor for the Paul Bunyan Trailriders’ maintenance of the Round River portion on the west side of Highway 64

n Approved a purchase of service agreement with Al Winterberger for subsurface sewage treatment system inspection.