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CARLTON COUNTY BOARD: Board considers space issues at Cloquet site

Members of AFSCME Union Local 2750 were a strong but silent presence at Monday’s Carlton County Board of Commissioners meeting, with close to a dozen scattered around the meeting room in bright green union T-shirts.

“We’re here to show an interest in the process,” said AFSCME staff representative JT Haines, noting that the union represents 125 employees in the county’s Health and Human Services department, and noting the union is “entering mediation” with the county.

Although union members presented each county commissioner with an informational packet before the meeting, there was no public discussion of the negotiations and no input from the audience. The board did hold a closed session for labor negotiation updates.

Also Monday, commissioners approved a five-year extension of the Work Force Center lease agreement. The vote was unanimous, but came after discussion of whether the county might be better served using that space for its new ACT mental health program, because there’s no room left in the County Public Health and Human Services building in downtown Cloquet.

“The services the WorkForce Center provides mesh well with what Health and Human Services and Veterans Services provide,” said County Coordinator Dennis Genereau.

Health and Human Services Director Dave Lee agreed.

“From a human services standpoint, when you’re trying to get people employed, it’s more convenient to have them (the WorkForce Center) right there so we can work directly with them,” Lee said. “On many different levels, it’s probably good to keep them there.”

In other matters Monday, commissioners took the following actions:

  • Approved an agreement that will allow the American Bird Conservancy to perform habitat work for the Golden Winged Warbler on county tax-forfeited lands;

  • Approved the refilling of a disability services social worker position due to retirement;

  • Applauded the work of county Financial Eligibility Specialists who received a SNAP award, for outstanding work. The award was only given to five counties around the state.