Board welcomes new commissioner, elects chairmanIt was a time for the changing of the guard at Tuesday’s annual meeting of the Carlton County Board.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It was a time for the changing of the guard at Tuesday’s annual meeting of the Carlton County Board.
Freshman commissioner Gary Peterson took over the board post in District 5, filling the considerable shoes of long-time commissioner and immediate past board chair Ted Pihlman. Elected as incoming board chair was District 4 Commissioner Bob Olean, who is in his third year of serving on the board. New vice chair will be District 1 Commissioner Dick Brenner, who will also chair the Committee of the Whole.
In other annual housekeeping measures, the board set the times and dates for county board meetings in 2013 for 8:30 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month and 4 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month. Both meetings will be held in the meeting room of the Carlton County Transportation Building.
Board members agreed to convene the monthly meeting of the Committee of the Whole, comprised of commissioners, department heads and township and transportation representatives, on the first Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m., also in the meeting room of the Transportation Building.
In other business conducted at Tuesday’s board meeting, Economic Development Director Pat Oman reported the county has applied for $1.8 million in Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) financing to aid commercial flood victims in the county as well as $110,000 in grant administration funds. Oman said he expects the loan money to be awarded within the week, and he anticipates there will be 24-27 applicants for the funding. He said the board should be able to review their completed loan statements within the next 90 days.
In a related matter, the board gave the go-ahead to Brent’s Heating and Cooling in Carlton and Park Lake Resort in Atkinson Township to enter into the pre-application process for MIF loans to assist with flood-related repairs to their businesses.
Carlton County Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert reported the 2012 tax abatement letters and/or checks went out in the mail last week for those whose properties suffered significant damage from the June flooding. He said the 2013 tax abatements will come in the form of credits on homeowner’s tax statements. Gassert reported that at least six people missed the deadlines in applying for flood-related tax abatements, one of them a military veteran returning home on leave for the first time since the flooding at the end of the year. Gassert asked commissioners to consider reimbursing those people whose homes suffered 50 percent or more damage for the difference in taxes already paid out, which he estimated would only amount to a few thousand dollars. The board agreed to take it under advisement.
The board voted to accept a Conservation Legacy Grant from the state of Minnesota in the amount of $22,212 aimed at helping to restore conifer growth in northern Minnesota. Land Commissioner Greg Bernu explained the money will be used in Carlton County for a special planting project in Sawyer Township and will cover the cost of purchasing and planting white pine, jack pine and cedar seedlings.
Sheriff Kelly Lake requested the board approve acceptance of a $10,000 Emergency Communications Network grant from the state of Minnesota to help upgrade the county’s 911 equipment and, as she stated, “prepare it for the next-generation 911.” She explained the upgrade will enable Dispatch to accept text messages and eventually download video as well. The board endorsed the grant.
Finally, the board voted in support of a request from the unorganized township of Sawyer to amend the existing ordinance to allow the county board to levy for the township’s upkeep and maintenance of its cemetery.