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Concerns about library internet use discussed at commissioners' meeting

Fifteen cents. That's how much it costs to print a page at the Douglas County Library. Fifteen cents is part of what brought one citizen to Tuesday's commissioners' meeting. He disagreed with some of the library's practices; Internet use was one point he argued.

The library's Internet usage policy kicks on every time a person logs onto one of the public computer terminals and affects what the user can print, how long the sessions are and other matters. If the policy is violated, a user's right to frequent the library is taken away.

Usage of the library computer lab has steadily increased over the years. In 2012, 19,265 computer sessions were logged, said Library Director Karen Simmons. A previous one-hour per week per user computer lab policy has been increased to a one-hour per day allotment to keep up with the lab's popularity.

"Computers aren't standing empty for an extended period of time," Simmons said.

The only reason the cost to print is 15 cents, Simmons explained, is because the cost of toner is so expensive.

The Douglas County Board was unable to address the citizen's concerns because the library functions are governed by the library board.

"They become an autonomous board from the county," explained County Coordinator Bill Schalow.

Library board members are appointed by the Douglas County board. However, that is where the commissioners' sway stops. Policies, such as the internet policy, would need to be discussed at a library board meeting.

"We're a little bit handcuffed in what we can and can't do, but we can visit with [the library board]" said chair Dan Olson.

OH HAPPY DAY! - OR WEEK

The Alexandria Kiwanis Club is promoting Random Acts of Kindness Week in the county for the 17th year in a row to seek and promote acts of kindness that happen in our community every day. February 10-16, 2013 has been proclaimed Random Acts of Kindness Week in Douglas County.

The Kiwanis Club has invited public and private elementary schools in School District 206 to participate in a drawing contest in which students illustrate their ideas of what acts of kindness look like. Last year, more than 1,000 entries were received.

Douglas County joins more than 600 communities nationwide that will be celebrating through the week.

HEALTH AGREEMENTS

Douglas County took another step forward in the five-county public health department formation. Commissioners approved a memorandum of agreement between the Horizon Community Health Board and Douglas County.

The agreement outlines terms under which the county will serve as the performance improvement and planning agency. Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs will direct the agency with clerical, planning and administrative support from the Douglas County Public Health department. The agreement specifies that all support employees are maintained as county employees and not considered employees of the community health board.

Douglas County will maintain its own liability insurance. Quarterly payments will be made from Douglas County to the Horizon Community Health Board to support its contribution to the five-county entity. A total of $8,000 will be paid for the time between January 1 through December 31, 2013.

Horizon Public Health includes Douglas County Public Health, Pope County Public Health and the combined Stevens, Traverse, Grant public health departments.

Multiple social services department contracts were renewed for the coming year. Social Services Director Mike Woods said some increased while others decreased. Any increases, he said, were due to cost of living adjustments. Providers included: Rule 36 Limited Partnership IV - Milestones, Productive Alternatives, Vikingland Community Support Program, Rainbow Rider, Lutheran Social Services, New Beginnings, Prairie Community Services, Divine House, REM Central Lakes, Wings, Alexandria Opportunities Center, Douglas County Developmental Achievement Center, St. Cloud Detox, REM-SILS, Family Innovations, Lakeland Mental Health, Meridian Services, Rural Minnesota CEP and the county attorney for a fraud investigator.

LAW ENFORCEMENT GRANT

Emergency Management Director Sheriff Troy Wolbersen and Deputy Emergency Management Director Fire Marshal Dennis Stark presented Douglas County commissioners with a Hazard Mitigation Assistance program plan in which the county will be required to match funds. Should the grant be approved, Douglas County will be responsible for providing a minimum of 25 percent of eligible project costs or a minimum of $10,000 in local matching funds. The hazard mitigation planning process was established under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.

"This grant is to update our current hazard mitigation program plan, which was done in 2006," Stark said. The plan identifies risks and hazards in Douglas County. Stark said all the cities in the county have already committed to applying for the grant. Commissioners gave the go ahead to submit the application.

WRAPPING UP ROADS

County Engineer/Public Works Director Dave Robley reported on work completed throughout the county. Mark Lee Excavating completed water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, curb and gutter, grading, aggregate base and bituminous surfacing on County State Aid Highways (CSAH) 1 and 5 and in the city of Evansville.

All projects were slightly more than contract estimates. Total value of work on CSAH 1 was $680,030 (3.9 percent higher), CSAH 5 was $122,851 (5.8 percent higher) and the city of Evansville cost $421,871 (1.7 percent increase). Commissioner Jerry Johnson questioned why grass had not yet begun to grow in the area when it had been seeded.

"It was a little hard with the drought conditions," Robley explained. "Typically, when you seed in late May or early June, you get a good catch...sometimes you get a good take, sometimes you don't." Robley said there are plans to follow up in the spring.

Grading, aggregate base and bituminous surfacing was completed on CSAH 20 with a 5.55 percent overrun ($443,085.27) by Central Specialties, Inc. The company also wrapped up grade widening and bituminous surfacing of CSAH 44 and county roads 90 and 106. CSAH 44 was completed at a cost of $239,636 (1.8 percent under budget), County Road 90 at $188,009 (3.4 percent over) and County Road 106 at $287,571 (18.8 percent over). Robley said the County Road 106 cost is so far off because of a plan error.

Kim Barse and Tom Wacholz of Orb Management in Alexandria stopped by the commissioners meeting to increase awareness of their company, meet new commissioners and express Orb's interest in future county projects.

"Hopefully we're on the low end of doing things for a little while," Olson said. "It's nice to have local folks to put the bids out to and let everybody take a shot at it."

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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