County Board Briefs

Below are summaries of action from the Dec. 13 and Dec. 20 meetings of the Mille Lacs County Board, compiled by Debbie Griffin.

New K-9 officer approved for county
The Mille Lacs County Board approved an add-on request from Sheriff Brent Lindgren at its Dec. 13 meeting to spend $8,400 to buy a second K-9 officer with money from the sheriff’s drug and alcohol contingency fund and drug-forfeiture fund. A memorandum from Lindgren in the board’s packet states that the county used to have two K-9 officers before its current dog, Yazz, came into service in 2011. An instructor and deputy are ready for the new dog and will begin the training and certification process once the department acquires it.

Commissioners agree
to PACE loans
The Mille Lacs County Board voted at its Dec. 20 meeting to enter into a joint powers agreement with the St. Paul Port Authority for its commercial property assessed clean-energy program, or PACE. It enables businesses in the county to apply for low-interest loans to be spent on some type of energy-efficiency improvements, such as upgrades to LED lights, additional insulation or new windows. The program aims to increase energy efficiency and generate a savings over time for the business owners.

Funding for academy
increased
The executive director of the Mille Lacs Academy for youth in Onamia, Jason Donahue, attended the Dec. 20 Mille Lacs County Board meeting to answer any questions about a requested 15 percent increase in per-diem funding “to support their ability to staff the program sufficiently.” Donahue had come before the board about a year ago asking for a total funding increase of 30 percent over two or three years so that the academy could offer competitive wages. The board approved a 15 percent increase last year and a 15 percent increase at the recent meeting. Donahue said it is still needed more than ever, especially with a rise in the aggression of troubled kids they serve and an increased need for the academy to give clients the individualized attention they need.

Roadway report includes mailbox talk
Mille Lacs County’s new roadway superintendent, Kevin Schultz, reported to the board about recent activities, such as the clearing of trees to improve sight distance along County Road 12, the gravel plan for the upcoming year and snow plowing. He said he is just beginning to learn and analyze the plowing process but so far it has been going pretty well except for a few mailbox casualties. One of the commissioners asked about the county’s policy on damaged mailboxes. Discussion disclosed that if a plow strikes a mailbox, the county replaces it with a “swing box,” but if the mailbox collapses under the weight of snow or is a special configuration that breaks, the county is not responsible for replacement.