On Tuesday, the Itasca County Board of Commissioners approved a motion to begin the process of conducting a county-wide inventory for economic development.

During a regular board meeting on Jan. 15, the board unanimously approved the motion to authorize County Administrator Brett Skyles to move forward with a plan to work with the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to draft a contract with Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) to conduct the inventory.

According to Commissioner Terry Snyder, last Friday, he and Commissioner Burl Ives met with Tamara Lowney, President of IEDC, to discuss potential goals and outcomes for the inventory, which were initially discussed and reaffirmed during the earlier budget process.

“Burl and I presented that and more on Friday,” explained Snyder, who said the party also discussed the $80,000 the board set aside to complete potential special projects in the future.

“We had a down and dirty talk about our concerns and what we liked and what we didn’t like and what we thought would be beneficial to the county, at least in 2019, in the short-term,” Snyder continued.

Snyder assured the board that the inventory will be as inclusive as possible, with all the small cities and townships included in the assessment. He also said the organization felt the process would be “easily achievable in one year, probably even less time.”

This is just one of many potential projects that could emerge out of this relationship, said Commissioner Ben DeNucci.

“Small cities and townships just don’t have the staff to do these things, so this investment will allow those opportunities to come to life and be developed,” he continued.

Snyder said that, moving forward in the process, the board plans to meet regularly with IEDC, to ensure transparency of the board in how the county’s money is being spent.

In other business, the board approved the following consent agenda items:

  • Approved the reduced certificate of liability insurance requirements for Itasca Waters Legacy Partnership (IWLP) from $1,500,000 to $1,000,000. IWLP has minimal activity and a lower level of risk than a normal contract. The $1,500,000 causes the non-profit organization to carry $2,000,000 of coverage as insurance companies do not write $1,500,000. This reduction of insurance requirement would save the IWLP $750 on annual premium costs.

  • Accepted the 2019 Juvenile Justice Screening Grant in the amount of $154,340 and authorized necessary signatures. Itasca County receives funds annually from the Department of Human Services (DHS) as a result of conducting mental health screenings on children in both probation and child protection cases. The funding amount is based on numbers of screenings conducted by both departments based on a formula developed by DHS. In 2019, Itasca County will receive $154,340, which is an increase of $1,879 from 2018. The amounts are configured from numbers of cases two years prior to the grant year.

  • Approved a forest access road easement over and across part of Government Lot 1, Section 24, Township 59 North, Range 24 West. The west fork of the Prairie River and adjacent lowlands makes road access in this area difficult. The easement provides access along existing roads, therefore preventing the need for expensive road building activities to manage tax-forfeited lands.

  • Approved a recreational trail license agreement between Mesabi Metallics Company, LLC, and Itasca County, and authorized necessary signatures. The Recreational Trail License Agreement was drafted initially by ESSAR Steel Minnesota Company, LLC. It was submitted to the Land Department and reviewed by the County Attorney's office. After Mesabi Metallics Company, LLC formed, the document was re-reviewed and submitted to the Attorney's office. The Recreational Trail License authorizes the proposed Grant-in-Aid (GIA) ATV trail and the current Nashwauk Snowmobile trail in described legal descriptions.

  • Adopted a resolution regarding the repurchase of property by the following, and authorized necessary signatures: Dale and Vicki Benes, Marshall Clements, Timothy Edoff, Gregg Cogswell and Josh A. Drewes. All parcels were forfeited in 2018 for non-payment of taxes. Itasca County has received payment for all delinquent taxes, penalties, interest and associated costs for all the properties.

  • Approved a five-year Joint Powers Agreement with the State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) and authorized necessary signatures. The agreement has allowed the county to share contracts with the MN DNR for implementing forest management projects, such as with aerial seeding and aerial herbicide application. This leads to personnel and contract cost savings for these projects to the county.

  • Authorized the Land Department to raise the Camping fees for Bass Lake Park Campground from $10 per night to $15 per night, effective May 1, 2019. The fee for camping at Bass Lake has been set at $10 per night for more than 10 years. The Land Department recommended raising the fees to meet other campgrounds in the area and the increasing costs for garbage pickup and latrine disposal.

  • Approved Probation Officer Tiana Carlson to attend the Improving Criminal Justice Response Grantee Orientation Training in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 29-31. Itasca County has been awarded a federal Improving Criminal Justice Response Grant, which addresses how domestic assault cases are handled within the county. Recipients of this grant are required to send representatives to this orientation to ensure grant compliance, project development, address technical assistance and grant reporting procedures. Agent Carlson will be attending this training with the Executive Director of Advocates for Family Peace, Mandie Alto. All travel expenses are covered by the federal grant.

During the regular agenda, the board:

  • Approved the minutes of the Tuesday, Jan. 8 county board organizational meeting/work session.

  • Recognized the following county employees: Kenneth Schofield, who has been hired as a Corrections Deputy, Sheriff Department, effective Dec. 31, 2018, due to a resignation; Kay Mueller, who has retired from her position of Account Technician, Health and Human Services Department, effective Dec. 31, 2018, after more than 31 years of service; James Sweeney, who has retired from his position of Corrections Supervisor, Probation Department, effective Dec. 28, 2018, after more than 34 years of service; Jason Alstad, who has transferred from Highway Maintenance Worker to Engineering Technician, Transportation Department, effective Dec. 31, 2018, due to a reallocation; John Benton, who has retired from his position of Jail Programmer, Sheriff Department, effective
    Dec. 27, 2018, after more than 21 years of service; Amy Chuk, who has transferred from her position of Administrative Support Recorders Department to Administrative Support Probation Department, effective Jan. 14, 2019; Andrew Glusica, who has resigned from his position of Real Estate Specialist, Land Department, effective Jan. 18, 2019, after more than five years of service; Dean Morris, who has transferred from Mechanic/Welder to Highway Maintenance Worker, Road and Bridge Division, Transportation Department, effective Jan. 28, 2019, due to a job transfer; Michelle Tessin, who has been promoted from a Social Worker, Health and Human Services Department to Social Services Supervisor, effective Jan. 14, 2019, due to a retirement; Faith Keenan, who has resigned from her position of Disease Management Coordinator, IMCare Division, Health and Human Services Department, effective Jan. 13, 2019, after more than seven years of service; and Andria Hilton, who has resigned from her position of QI/UM Nurse, IMCare Division, Health and Human Services Department, effective Jan. 13, 2019, after more than six years of service.

  • Approved Commissioner Warrants with a check date of Jan. 18, 2019, in the amount of $1,672,959.37.

  • Approved the Itasca County Health and Human Services Department Warrants for December 2018 in the amount of $1,524,748.19.

  • Removed the vice-chair designation of the alternate on the Laurentian RC&D Council and appointed Commissioner Leo Trunt as an alternate effective Jan. 15 through Dec. 31, 2019. The board has historically appointed a delegate and alternate to the council. Beginning in 2011, the board changed the delegate and alternate to the chair and vice-chair respectively. The delegate was then changed to Commissioner DeNucci in 2018, but the alternate remained the vice-chair. However, Commissioner DeNucci serves as the vice-chair for 2019, which left a vacancy remaining on the council.

  • County Administrator Skyles and Facilities Management Supervisor Randall Washburn provided the board with information regarding a request to approve the Service Agreement for Mechanical Maintenance Services and the Service Agreement for Honeywell Outcome Based Service with Honeywell Building Solutions. The motion was referred to the Jan. 22 session.

  • Heard a Business Division update provided by Crissy Krebs, who provided a review of the 2018 Health and Human Services budget versus actual breakdown.

  • Authorized the county engineer to enter into a professional service contract with Lucachick Architecture, Inc., to provide building design services for a new maintenance facility near Swan River, and authorized the county engineer to execute the contract documents.

  • Denied a motion to adopt a resolution regarding utilization of project labor agreements. Commissioner DeNucci made a motion to adopt the resolution, which failed due to lack of a second.

  • Approved the Everbridge Service Agreement between Itasca County and Everbridge, Inc., with a reduction of insurance requirements to allow for the vendor to provide for a $1,000,000 per occurrence or $2,000,000 General and Operations Aggregate, and authorized the Itasca County board chair to sign the documents.

  • Authorized the county administrator, board chair and deputy clerk of the county board to sign the Region 2 Homeland Security and Emergency Management Mutual Aid Agreement. This agreement would most likely be employed during an emergency/disaster situation.

  • Authorized the Itasca County board chairman and county administrator to sign the Professional Service Agreement between Itasca County and Paramount Planning Group.

  • Approved the application for and acceptance of various grants to fund the construction of a kiln for the Probation Department's Wood Works Program. The Probation Department is working in collaboration with Itasca County Community College's Engineering Department to design and construct a kiln for the Wood Works program. The kiln is needed to accommodate increased regulations regarding invasive species in firewood products. There are a number of potential grant sources that have been identified that could provide the dollars needed for construction materials.

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