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It was business as usual in the Douglas County License Bureau Wednesday afternoon. Workers await the commissioners' decision to keep the office under county ownership or sell to the highest bidder. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)

For sale: Douglas County License Bureau?

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A lot of people have personalized license plates. How about a private license bureau?

The first meeting of the Douglas County commissioners after the election buzz wore off was fairly customary - aside from discussion of the license bureau possibly becoming privatized.

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During budgeting talks, it was proposed to sell the license bureau service as a way to make cuts and reduce the budget. It is a non-mandated service that is not statutory required and could save the county $18,000 to $25,000 annually, said County Coordinator Bill Schalow.

It is not unheard of; Pope County privatized its license bureau in the 1990s.

"As we have so many buyers that are interested in this, I would move that we proceed," said Commissioner Paul C. Anderson. Commissioner Norm Salto seconded the motion. A unanimous approval followed.

Commissioners directed Schalow to contact an accountant to determine a fair and viable sale price. A 30-day notice will also need to be given to the union group. Continued discussion is planned for the November 27 commissioners' meeting at which date a sale price will be given.

ELECTION AND DRUGS

Douglas County Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow publicly thanked her staff and the election judges for all their support during the 2012 election.

Three teams will be busy with the House District 8B recount following the canvassing board's decision on November 27. Rosenow's office has until noon on November 30 to complete the task.

Rosenow reported on the Coast2Coast prescription savings program initiated earlier in 2012. Douglas County residents saved $1,113 on prescription drugs by using the program in September alone; a savings of 76 percent off retail price.

Pharmacies in the area have discount cards available. The county receives a $1.25 royalty for every claim filed. To date, 17 claims have earned the county a $21.25 reimbursement.

GRANTS AND DONATIONS

The Douglas County Veterans Service Office received a $2,298 community outreach grant from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Community Veterans Service Officer Ray Kallstrom said the grant is timely and that it can be used for advertising when the department has settled back into its offices in the Services Center.

Sheriff Troy Wolbersen informed commissioners of an increase in the 2012 Narcotics and Gang Task Force grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The original amount, $153,656, has been increased to $307,312.

Wolbersen explained that the funds have been broken up into three increments: $76,828 is available from January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013; $167,787 is available from July 1, 2012 through December 31, 2013 and $62,696 is available from July 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. Commissioners approved the amendment to the West Central Task Force Grant Agreement.

The Douglas County Public Health department reported $945 in donations in October. The funds were designated for the county's hospice program.

Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs said reporting of donations will become a regular occurrence at county board meetings given the importance of Douglas County's hospice program to a regional five-county public health department. The Horizon Community Health Board will integrate three public health departments included in Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties.

David Kjos and Dian Lopez have been reappointed to the Douglas County Hospital Board as community at large members.

PARKS, TRAILS AND LAND

Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. (HKGI) will introduce commissioners to a long-range parks and trail system plan at the November 27 board meeting. In 2011, a comprehensive plan was begun to address acquiring, building and operating county parks.

HKGi has entered into a $35,000 contract with the county to prepare what Douglas County Parks Superintendent Al Lieffort called a planning "road map." The county will be responsible for $15,000 of the cost; Blue Cross Blue Shield has granted $20,000 to the project.

Lieffort said a community open house is planned for mid-January to gather the public's input.

A partial abandonment petition for a branch of county ditch 3 was approved for Dennis and Jenell Week's property in Evansville. Douglas County Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson said the portion of land will be more farmable once the ditch is closed and replaced with tile.

SWITCHING SEATS

Commissioners Paul C. Anderson (District 4) and Norm Salto (District 2) will wrap up their terms as Douglas County commissioners as 2012 comes to a close. Charlie Meyer will fill the District 4 seat and Jim Stratton will assume the District 2 spot.

Commissioner Bev Bales presented chair Jerry Johnson with a certificate recognizing his nomination for commissioner of the year. Johnson received honorable mention from the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Beginning December 10, Brent Birkeland will join Douglas County as information technology director. Commissioners will meet with other department heads on November 29 and elected officials on December 11 to discuss salaries. Salaries for elected officials (county attorney, recorder, sheriff and auditor/treasurer) will be set on December 27.

Since the second meeting day (fourth Tuesday) in December falls on Christmas Day the commissioners have rescheduled their second board meeting for later that week. The board will meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday, December 27.

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.

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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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