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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Yes, no and maybe. One grant application was approved, another denied and plans to apply for one next year were discussed at Thursday's county board meeting. Award letters for two Park Legacy grant applications applied for in 2012 were received on Wednesday. Park Superintendent Al Lieffort said the county was awarded a grant for acquisition of land at Kensington Runestone Park. The grant for $337,000 will pay for the purchase of 84-acres of land on the south end of Eng Lake.
Douglas County officials' compensation was set for 2013 at Thursday's commissioners' meeting. Salaries for the sheriff, county attorney, county auditor/treasurer and county recorder all increased. Commissioners' salaries remained the same as they have been for the past nine years, $26,000. Earlier in December, elected officials met with commissioners to negotiate rates. County Attorney Chad Larson will receive an increase from $89,300 to $93,000. Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow's salary will increase from $83,000 to $84,500.
Do we all have to celebrate the same holiday to have a happy one? You can't say Merry Christmas. You can't pledge allegiance to the flag. You can't pray in school. Well, in most cases those instances are becoming unacceptable by "society's" standards. But, whose society? A little more than a year ago, I attended the first meeting of what was to be my beat for the Echo Press. Sitting in the Commissioner's Room at the Douglas County Courthouse, we were asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. OK, I remember that one. We said it every day in elementary school.
The District 206 School Board certified the 2013 tax levy at $11.215 million at its December 17 meeting. The total is $211,000 more, a 1.92 percent increase, than last year and a slight decrease from preliminary numbers projected in September that showed a 1.93 increase. The general fund levy increased 1.3 percent to $48,129.37. The community service fund levy increased from $35,000 to $75,000. Debt service fund levy, comprised of voter approved school facility bonds, increased 1.97 percent.
Washington? Lincoln? Jefferson? The Alexandria School District 206 Board of Education strayed from the traditional path and elected a more modern name for the new high school opening in 2014 - Alexandria Area High School. The name was alluded to at the groundbreaking ceremony in September. Board members unanimously approved the name at their December 17 meeting.
In what might have been the shortest tax hearing in Douglas County history, commissioners passed both the levy and budget for 2013. About a dozen people, mostly department heads, attended the half-hour meeting at Public Works on the evening of December 12. The levy was passed at $24,548,839, a 0.31 percent decrease from 2012. The county's budget was approved at $44,307,217. Preliminary numbers had the levy increasing by 2.07 percent. Commissioners and department heads met prior to the budget hearing to trim costs. Budgeted revenue between 2012 and 2013 remained fairly stable.
The Coast2Coast prescription drug savings program has continued to increase in popularity since implementation this fall. At the December 11 county commissioner's meeting County Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow said that the county received its second royalty check, $102.50, for participation in the program. In October 2012, 83 prescriptions were filled using the Coast2Coast cards. Eighteen were filled in September. Area pharmacies have the cards available for people interested in signing up for the program; some are also available at the court-house.
Editor's note: The following is an Echo Press feature called, "You asked." Readers are invited to send the newspaper a simple question and we'll try to get to the bottom of it. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . When a person dies, their estate lives on until it can be properly distributed. Most people don't deal with death and legal issues every day, which raises questions - questions that are deemed legal advice. In April 2009, Tom Obert's mother, Natalia Obert, died.
Four elected officials in Douglas County discussed salaries with commissioners for the coming year at Tuesday's board meeting. Salaries will be set at the December 27 county commissioners' meeting. Auditor/Treasurer Char Rosenow requested a 1.8 percent increase, which would raise her pay from $83,000 to $84,500. In 2011, she requested $84,000. Last year, County Attorney Chad Larson asked for nothing above what was considered for other officials.
They fought the law and the law won. A small victory was scored for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office at Tuesday's county commissioners meeting. Sheriff Troy Wolbersen was granted permission to retain one of his deputies until construction of the law enforcement center in Alexandria is completed. Debate over how much to spend on road deputies and overtime is often discussed when the sheriff's office budget is on the docket at county board meetings. County auditor/treasurer Char Rosenow presented the board with yet another set of numbers to be considered at a December 12 tax hearing.