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County board gears up for New Year

New board leadership and new meeting dates kicked off the first meeting in 2014 for the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

BALES LEADS BOARD Douglas County Commissioner Bev Bales (District 3) was elected to serve as the board chairperson for 2014.

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She stepped into the role after Commissioner Dan Olson served as chairman during 2013. This is Bales’ second time leading the county board.

When asked about her goals for 2014, she said, “As chair, I plan to continue to help educate the public of just what the county does for them, that their precious dollars are spent in the best possible manner, considering all the services that are expected of a county to provide. I hope to keep an open mind to any and all suggestions, both from our employees and the public. I welcome them.”

Bales noted that the county board’s main project in 2014 is the expansion of courtrooms and updating for better energy efficiency.

“Additionally, we will continue to see where we can join with other counties, or share with them in services to save dollars and/or efficiency,” she said.

Bales said, on average, she spends about 40 hours per week on county business; mostly board and committee meetings and meeting with constituents.

“Some of the best suggestions have come from a church festival or a Lions’ or firemen’s meeting,” she said.

Overall, Bales said, “I’ve always been interested in government, and in particular county government, as it is non-partisan. We strive to do what is best for the people, with a concerted effort to leave politics out of it. Lastly, I cannot stress enough to say that we have a wonderful group of employees who work for Douglas County. They are devoted and committed to doing a great job - and they do. My hat goes off to them, because they also make the job of county commissioner much easier.”

NEW MEETING DATES The Douglas County Board meetings were moved to the first and third Tuesday of each month.

The change was reportedly prompted by the fact that most counties in Minnesota hold commissioner board meetings during the first and second weeks of each month.

Commissioner Jerry Johnson said, “I think we should give it a try and if it doesn’t work, we can look at it again in June or July.”

A special meeting will be held Tuesday, January 14 at 9 a.m. and the new first-and-third-Tuesday meeting schedule begins Tuesday, January 21.

Another new change to the board meeting schedule includes adding a 7:30 a.m. work session to the third Tuesday meetings; it will be held just before the regular board meeting. No action will be taken at the work sessions.

The first work session will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21.

The county board meets at the Douglas County Courthouse on the second floor.

All meetings are open to the public, unless closed in accordance with Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law.

OTHER BUSINESS In other business Tuesday, the board:

● Elected Commissioner Charlie Meyer to serve as the county board’s vice-chairperson.

● Appointed County Coordinator Bill Schalow as board secretary/clerk.

● Approved 2014 commissioner committee assignments (see chart).

● Appointed Commissioners Bales, Olson, Meyer, Jerry Johnson and Jim Stratton and department supervisors Schalow, Char Rosenow and Dave Robley to serve as delegates to the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC).

● Appointed the following residents to serve on the county’s planning commission: Gaylen Croonquist – District 1, Gerhard Thoennes – District 2, Bob Mostad – District 3, Russ Niskanen – District 4 and Les Zimmerman – District 5.

● Approved department supervisors’ memberships and payment of dues to respective professional associations.

● Approved the county’s membership to the National Association of Counties and payment of $720 for annual dues.

● Approved the county’s membership to the Association of Minnesota Counties and payment of $14,295 for annual dues.

● Designated the Echo Press as the county’s outlet for legal publication; one bid was submitted to the county indicating a 2.5 percent increase over 2013 for per-inch rate and printing costs for financial statements and delinquent tax list.

● Designated financial institutions to serve as the county’s banking and investing outlets: Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bremer Bank, BlackRidge Bank, Viking Savings Bank, Neighborhood National Bank, Bell State Bank and Trust, Bremer Investment Services, all of Alexandria; First State Bank of Kensington; First National Bank of Osakis; First Security Bank of Evansville; Hometown Community Bank of Forada; RBC Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Advisors, Wells Fargo Securities LLC, MAGIC Fund, all of Minneapolis; Morgan Stanley Smith Barney of St. Paul; UBS Financial Services Inc. of Wayzata.

● Approved Shutter’s Tire and Auto in Alexandria to provide vehicle maintenance to all non-public works vehicles; two bids were submitted to the county.

2014 Douglas County Commissioners’ committee appointments Active Living, Bev Bales; Alexandria Area Economic Development District Board, Dan Olson; Association of Minnesota Counties District IV, all commissioners; Area Agency on Aging – Land of the Dancing Sky, Jim Stratton; Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Jerry Johnson; budget committee, all commissioners; building committee, Bales/ Charlie Meyer; Building Connections, Stratton; chamber legislative committee, Meyer; Chippewa River Basin, Johnson; city/county/school district, Meyer/Olson, Stratton alternate; Complete Streets, Bales; County Committee on Aging, Johnson; county ditches (except judicial ditches 2, 3, 4), all commissioners; courts remodeling, Johnson/Olson; Douglas County Lakes Association, Dave Rush on behalf of commissioners; E-Waste, Bales; emergency management, all commissioners; Emergency Management Task Force, Jim Stratton; Extension, Johnson/Meyer; Flood Board, Johnson; Horizon Community Health Board, Bales/Johnson; Hospital Board, all commissioners; insurance, Meyer; Interagency Early Intervention, Stratton; Information Technology Steering Committee, Stratton; Judicial Ditch #2, Johnson, Meyer, Stratton; Judicial Ditch #3, Johnson/Olson/Stratton; Judicial Ditch #4, Bales/Meyer/Johnson; KXRA update, rotate among all commissioners; Lakeland Mental Health Center, Olson; Lakes Area Community Recreation, Meyer; Land and Resource Planning, Stratton; law enforcement, Stratton; law library, Stratton; library, Meyer; legislative committee, Bales/Meyer; long range planning, all commissioners; mental health committee, Bales; Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus, Stratton; National Association of Counties member programs, Bales; Noxious Weed Appeals Board, Stratton; Nurse-Family Partnership, Olson; Pomme de Terre, Johnson; Pope/Douglas Environmental Health, Johnson/Olson; Pope/Douglas Solid Waste, Olson/Stratton/Jerry Wright; PrimeWest, Bales/Olson; public health advisory, Johnson; Public Works planning (road and bridges), all commissioners; Radio Board, Meyer/alternate Johnson; Rainbow Rider, Olson/Meyer; regional mental health committee, Bales; regional transportation advisory, Dave Robley on behalf of commissioners; Runestone Park Board, Johnson; Safe Communities, Bales; Sauk River Watershed Board, Bales/Bob Mostad; senior citizen anti-fraud, Troy Wolbersen/Sandy Tubbs on behalf of commissioners; Senior Volunteer Advisory Board, Olson; Soil and Water Conservation District, Olson; Task Force on Aging, Stratton; tax abatement, Bales/Meyer; Viking Library, Meyer; WesMin Resource Conservation and Development, Johnson; West Central Community Action, Olson; West Central Initiative, Meyer; West Central Regional Juvenile Center, Stratton; West Central Wellness/Statewide Health Improvement Program, Bales; and zoning land use ordinance, all commissioners.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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