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County discontinues third Tuesday meeting

At Tuesday's regular Douglas County board meeting, commissioners approved the discontinuation of the third Tuesday of the month meetings that were designated solely to Douglas County Public Health and Douglas County Social Services issues.

At its reorganizational meeting at the beginning of January, the commissioners approved the addition of the third meeting, but have since decided they would just keep two meetings a month - the second and fourth Tuesdays at 9 a.m. Public health and social services issues will be a part of the regular agenda at those meetings if need be.

No particular reason was provided at Tuesday's meeting as to why the commissioners discontinued the meetings.

In other board action

The board was asked to approve filling a vacancy for a feedlot officer. The vacancy is the result of Kelly Anderson resigning from the position late last year.

In a memo to the commissioners from Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush, who was absent from Tuesday's meeting, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) provided Douglas County with $42,147 to operate the feedlot program for this year.

Rush prepared the memo in anticipation of questions he thought the board would have, including, "Can we do the work with the staff we have and will the funding from MPCA cover the position?"

Last year, the county received $47,981 to run the program, but with fewer feedlots in the county and state budget cuts, the funding for this year has decreased, according to Rush.

State funding should pay for the majority of this year's program, he added.

Rush also noted that as the number of feedlots decrease and the grant amount decreases, the program will not pay for a full-time employee, nor will it require full-time effort.

The position will have to be evaluated over time to determine if it should be cut back to a part-time position and/or responsibilities shifted to other areas in the office that have funding, noted Rush.

At this time, Rush said the feedlot officer position could be filled with current staff, but that it is a full-time position. It would, however, create a vacancy elsewhere in the department.

Rush noted that since his office terminated a position last year due to budget and decreased workload at that time, another loss of a staff member would greatly increase individual workloads, especially in the busy summer months. He said he would like to keep his staff to six members so that the department can continue to provide the level of service to the public that they have been accustomed to.

"I have heard only good things from the farming community and the lake associations about our feedlot program," said Rush. "I would like to continue that track record with a new employee. I ask that you approve the filling of this vacancy."

The request was approved with a 5-0 vote.