L'Homme Dieu beach to have concession stand this summer
Douglas County commissioner approved the stand, Trio Treats, at the Tuesday, May 16, meeting.
DOUGLAS COUNTY — Lake L’Homme Dieu beach goers will see something new this year – the Trio Treat concession stand.
Douglas County commissioners approved the concession stand during their Tuesday, May 16, regular board meeting.
Brad Bonk, Douglas County Parks superintendent, told commissioners he was approached this past winter by the owner of Trio Treats, Jackie Lair. He said she would like to sell prepackaged treats and beverages. Bonk also said she would sell the treats out of the current facility that is located at the beach in north Alexandria. He told commissioners she would paint the concession room and refurbish it.
The products being sold would include prepackaged ice cream, chips, candy and beverages. The concession stand would be open Memorial Day weekend and close Labor Day weekend. Hours would be noon to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
For at least the last 10 years, the facility has not been used for concessions, Bonk told the commissioners. He said that is how long he has worked for the county and no one has ever sold concessions out of the building since he started.
At one time, however, Lakes Area Recreation used to sell concessions out of that space, as well as taking care of employing lifeguards at the beach. Bonk said they quit doing the lifeguard program during the COVID-19 pandemic and have not started it back up.
Bonk said Lair is licensed through the state and that she would be renting the space from the county to house her concession stand business.
“She understands that we would charge her for rent,” said Bonk, adding that it is common practice at parks/beaches that private individuals rent space for concession sales.
Bonk said that even though the beach is within city limits, the county has a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to operate it, which is why the commissioners need to approve having Trio Treats sell concessions at the beach and not the city council.
Commissioners set the rent for Lair at $100 per month. Bonk told the commissioners this would be a trial period to see how it goes.
The commissioners liked the idea and were on board. Commissioner Charlie Meyer said, “This is great.”
Mental Health Awareness Month
Douglas County commissioners signed a proclamation declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
Laurie Bonds, director of Douglas County Social Services, along with Anna Olson, an adult mental health case manager from Douglas County, Becky Schmitz from Vikingland Community Support and Suzette Sutton, who shared her story of being homeless with a mental illness with a panel of Minnesota Legislators and candidates last October during the “11th Annual Day at Home in Region 4” event held in Alexandria, addressed the board.
Sutton read a list of unmet needs in the mental health system, which included the following:
- Long wait to get into see a psychiatrist or therapist for an initial appointment. Telehealth has provided more options for individuals, but the process can be cumbersome, and some individuals prefer in-person.
- Long waiting lists for subsidized housing options; Section 8 waiting list is currently closed. This can create issues for individuals who are coming out of treatment facilities or moving to a less restrictive housing setting. Also, locating affordable housing is challenging, even if a person does have a Bridges or Section 8 voucher, especially if there is poor rental history, poor credit, eviction and/or criminal activity.
- When individuals are experiencing a mental health crisis, they often go to the Alomere Health emergency room to seek help. Due to high ER volume, there are lengthy wait times to be evaluated. Once it has been determined that the person requires inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, the ER seeks placement. There is already a known shortage of psychiatric beds, which can pose a long wait at the ER for the individual in crisis. Douglas county does not have an inpatient psychiatric hospital accessible to a person needing placement from the ER. These beds are typically located outside a 60-mile radius. The entity that typically provides transportation to these hospitals is the sheriff’s office.
- When someone is in a mental health crisis but may not need the level of care for psychiatric hospitalization, they may be appropriate for a crisis/respite bed. However, due to a shortage of beds available in the area, people often remain in their home or are discharged back to their home without the appropriate level of support that they need.
- The lack of affordable transportation outside of the regular business hours that Rainbow Rider operates impacts employment and socialization, which are both known components of mental health recovery. The limited available routes to rural communities also affect the ability to attend appointments, essential shopping, employment, socialization, etc.
- Due to the workforce shortage, there has been a lack of staffing available to provide hands-on support in facilities, residential and community-based services. Low reimbursement rates also provide a challenge to agencies’ ability to provide services.
- A barrier to seeking mental health services is the stigma that unfortunately is still present today surrounding mental health services.
She also said there are some positives, also, like the Region IV South mobile crisis team being open 24 hours a day, along with on-going support provided by Vikingland CSP, among other items.
The four presenters also noted that they hoped that at least one, if not all the commissioners would attend the Mental Health Walk that is scheduled for Friday, May 19, at 11:30 a.m. The walk starts at the Vikingland CSP office, 1106 Broadway. The walk is sponsored by Douglas County LAC and Vikingland CSP.