County, reservation propose ‘Safe Routes to School’ partnershipMembers of the Carlton County Board voiced unanimous support Tuesday for a cooperative agreement with the Fond du Lac Reservation that could pave the way for a trail between Fond du Lac Gas and Grocery and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Members of the Carlton County Board voiced unanimous support Tuesday for a cooperative agreement with the Fond du Lac Reservation that could pave the way for a trail between Fond du Lac Gas and Grocery and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School.
According to County Transportation Director Wayne Olson, the county would perform the preliminary engineering work for the project, which will also include intersection improvements along Big Lake Road, and at least some of the county’s employee time will be reimbursed through grant funding received by the reservation.
The proposed trail would be known as the Gikinoo Inamon Trail, which, according to Fond du Lac’s Director of Planning Jason Hallinday, translates loosely as “Pass to School.” He said though the plan has not officially been endorsed yet by the Reservation Business Committee (RBC), he is hopeful that planning for the trail will be able to get under way sometime this summer.
According to Hallinday, the reservation has been discussing ways to participate in the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program for some time. SRTS is a national and international movement to create safe, convenient and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to and from schools. The program has been designed to reverse the decline in children walking and bicycling to schools and plays a critical role in reversing the nationwide trend toward childhood obesity and inactivity, according to the program’s official website.
Hallinday said the idea of a trail from the gas station to the school made the most sense, since a pre-existing stretch of trail way in that area is already heavily utilized. With that in mind, the reservation applied for grant money and was approved for funding through the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Enhancement Program as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs Roads Fund.
The total estimated cost of the project is $880,000, which Hallinday said would include the paved stretch of trail way plus widening of turn lanes at the intersections of University Road and Trettel Lane with Big Lake Road.
If final approval for the project is passed by the RBC, Olson said the engineering work would likely progress over the next year, with trail construction set to follow in 2011 or 2012.
In other business to come before the county board, Brad Matlack of the Soil and Water Conservation District informed commissioners of a sediment reduction project that will restore approximately half a mile of prime brook trout habitat in the Nemadji River Basin along the Skunk Creek and Deer Creek watersheds.
Matlack explained that through a two-year program supported through the Clean Water Fund, the county will replace 20 sediment retention structures in those watersheds that were installed two to three decades ago and have begun to fail. Essentially, the metal pipes have begun to rust out, resulting in soil loss of up to 8,775 tons as the channels seek to stabilize themselves, which is counter-productive to good brook trout habitat.
Brook trout require cold, clear, clean and highly-oxygenated water in order to thrive, and they are highly reactive to their environment.
Matlack said phases two and three of the project will include an assessment for possible methods of erosion control and habitat restoration in those areas.
The board voted unanimously to discontinue home health care services. According to Patti Martin of Carlton County Public Health, the county has participated in a Medicare-certified home health care program since the late 1960s. Over time and subsequent budget reductions, however, she said it has been forced to shift staff to other program areas and has become a small, minimally operated service with only one part-time staff
“It’s been a long road,” said Martin. “The program would have to be expanded significantly in order to make it a viable program,” she added, stating that wouldn’t make sense since there are other options available in the area.
The 11 clients currently enrolled in the county’s home health care program will now be transferred to other agencies and its employee will be shifted to another program area.
Finally, employee services awards were presented to several long-time county employees, including: Sharon Schafter, 30 years with the sheriff’s department; Kristine Basilici, 25 years with the county recorder’s office; Yvonne Peterson, 25 years with the motor vehicle/license bureau; and Susan Parson, 20 years with the auditor/treasurer’s office.