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home : cass county news : cass county news
March 19, 2018

2/15/2018 10:48:00 AM
Walker seeks development for county-owned Ah-Gwah-Ching
Cass County Correspondent

WALKER-While the city of Walker supports Cass County's current plan to stay in the city's downtown for the foreseeable future, the city would like to see some development take place at Ah-Gwah-Ching soon.

The county bought a major portion of the former state nursing home property for $1 from the state with the understanding it would be used for government services and health care.

At that time, Essential Health was considering a critical care hospital for the site.

Then the recession hit. Cass County found maintaining its existing buildings would be adequate for the amount of business it had. Transferring some of its business operations with the public online helped that decision.

Essentia decided it was not cost effective for them to add the critical care hospital to their health care operation. It dropped its plan for Walker.

There also are state owned and privately owned properties at the site now. None have been developed.

Walker paid to extend sewer and water to the site. It is sitting with an investment from which it cannot recuperate its costs. It also is concerned those investments could need maintenance or upgrades before the city gets any income from the installations.

A committee of Commissioners Jeff Peterson and Scott Bruns, Mayor Jed Shaw, Councilor Gary Wilkening sat down with some of their staff, Cass County Economic Development and Leech Lake Chamber of Commerce representatives Jan. 27 to discuss a way forward.

Their plan is to have the EDC prepare a proposal to offer to developers for a continuing care retirement community or assisted living facility or educational facility or mental health facility. Any would need to be one story buildings, they decided.

The county would retain a portion of their property for a future courthouse complex.

The EDC will report back to the county and city on what they recommend as the most likely development to seek and how they would advertise for developers.

In other county business:

Tuesday, the county board named Commissioners Peterson and Bob Kangas to meet with Pine River city officials concerning highway improvements.

The board received notice of a 10 a.m. public hearing Feb. 23 at the Health, Human and Veterans Services building main floor meeting room on the city of Boy River on a proposal to dissolve the city.

The state of Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings will conduct the hearing. If the state approves, the city would dissolve and become part of the township.

The state gas tax allotment to townships increased by $84,126 to $580,366. Cass County distributes that to towns within the county, based on a formula.

Schrupp Excavating won a bid to remove a hunting cabin from county land in Bull Moose Township for $1,000. The building is a deteriorating log structure.

Kenneth Peterson will be allowed to repurchase his tax-forfeited property in the unorganized township area for outstanding property taxes, penalties and interest amounting to $374.90.

Cass sold 5,977 cords of timber from county land at a Jan. 25 auction for $167,688.70. Aspen sold for $34.82 per cord. Oak sold for $39.53.

Health, Human and Veterans Services spent 92.87 percent of its budget in 2017 or $13,663,750. Out of home child placement costs ran 79.39 percent of budget at $2,052,087.

The most costly was for correctional facilities at $513,859, followed by foster care at $823,625, group homes at $389,598 and emergency shelters at $108,698. Miscellaneous expenses ran $216,307.

Dr. Michael McGee, Ramsey County contracting medical examiner for Cass County, reported 97 deaths in Cass in 2017. Of those, he accepted 49 for autopsies. Private physicians signed the remaining death certificates.

McGee's office completed 42 autopsies with toxicology, one external examination and signed six death certificates without examination.

There were 66 who died of natural causes, 22 from accidents, seven from suicide and one homicide. One case is still pending.

The commissioners approved the county's Emergency Services Board by-laws.

The board authorized either the veterans services officer or his assistant to attend four quarterly training meetings this year in Fargo, N.D.

Dr. Steven Fisker of Essentia Health - St. Joseph's Pine River Clinic was named county medical consultant for 2018.

He will provide general consultation and assistance to Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services Advisory Committee at least annually and advise the county board in the event of enforcement of laws and regulation relating to communicable disease and/or declared public health emergencies.

The commissioners approved a contract with Northland Counseling Center of Grand Rapids to provide up to $5,000 in mental health services to Cass clients.

The board approved a contract with Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota to provide guardianship and conservatorship services at a rate of $55 per hour.

The board approved a contract with Darell E. Westberg of Walker for $2,500 per month to clean the Health, Human and Veterans Services building in Walker, contingent upon his passing a background check and providing evidence of insurance.

The board approved paying the budgeted $5,000 allocation to Cass County Agricultural Association at Pine River for the county fair.

The board approved after a public hearing issuing an off-sale intoxicating liquor license to Orton's Cass Lake Cenex.

Cass County received the following donations: $50 from Mildred Bible Chapel for the sheriff's chaplaincy program, $1,000 from Hackensack Sons of the American Legion for the veterans transportation program and $913.50 for Cass County probation from Drive Right 365.

Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.

Bill Hansen Realty

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