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County board briefs: Sheriff's office and jail, Miltona housing expansion and Red Willow Arts Coalition

Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said the state is catching up with technology. A $10,000 grant from the state of Minnesota is going to help Douglas County prepare for the future.

Public safety answering points are converting to the Next Generation 911 (NG911) high speed voice and data network for routing and delivering emergency calls. The $10,000 granted to Douglas County will pay for equipment needed to get the NG911 project started.

Wolbersen said texting and e-mail communications are anticipated with new 911 systems. He added that most modern cell phones are equipped with a GPS locator that can reveal a person's location within yards. Five years ago, triangulation off towers would lead law enforcement to approximately half a mile from a 911 call.

Commissioners approved two law enforcement contracts between the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the cities of Miltona and Evansville. Each contract is effective between January 1 and December 31, 2013 for law enforcement protection at a rate of $37 per hour for 20 hours per month and 24-hour call and general service. The rate will not increase regardless of deputies' salaries.

A federal mandate has required jails housing state inmates to become compliant with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). State inmates are sometimes housed in the Douglas County Jail.

Captain Jackie Notch has taken on the role of PREA coordinator. Although Minnesota does not have a huge problem with rapes in jail, Notch said, nationally it is an issue. PREA must be adhered to in order for Douglas County to house state inmates.

Notch will attend specialized training in Milwaukee to prepare for an audit that will take place prior to Douglas County's passing the audit. The hospital and Someplace Safe will also be included in preparations for PREA compliance.

MILTONA HOUSING EXPANSION

In 2000, the city of Miltona designated an area southeast of Lake Irene as a tax increment financing (TIF) district for development of low and moderate income housing. A public hearing will be held on April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Miltona Community Center to address modifying the development plan to include purchasing properties outside the TIF district to facilitate construction of additional affordable housing units within the city.

COALESCING AT THE COURTHOUSE

The Red Willow Arts Coalition (RWAC) was granted permission to once again host musical performances on the Douglas County Courthouse lawn this summer. A line-up of swing, jazz, blues, folk, rock and roll, country, oldies and even polka will pep up the park-like courtyard.

Since 2010, hundreds of people have gathered at the historic site on Thursday evenings, beginning at 7 p.m., to support the RWAC's mission to promote the arts in the lakes area.

This year, Concerts on the Courthouse Lawn begins on May 23 and concludes on August 29. Events are free to the public; donations are accepted. The entertainment is sponsored by Elden's Fresh Foods and Anderson Funeral Home, in addition to nightly sponsors.

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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