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County to hire emergency management director

Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake is getting her chief deputy back.

The Carlton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve creating a full-time emergency management director position, rather than continuing to have Chief Deputy Brian Belich fill both roles.

The move came after the emergency management coordinator resigned from his .8 FTE position. Lake suggested creating one full-time director's position instead.

She explained that Belich was appointed as emergency director on top of his existing duties in 2008, when the state required each county to create the position. At the time, it didn't mean a huge number of additional duties.

"Since then, the state requirements have increased heavily for planning, and if you have an actual disaster, the duties increase exponentially," Lake told the board. "Brian Belich is my second in command and I've basically lost that."

The salary for the new position would be $73,000 a year with benefits (but not including insurance) on the low end. The difference between director and coordinator pay is roughly $21,000, depending on qualifications. Close to $23,000 of that salary is currently paid by the state.

Belich will still supervise the emergency management director, Lake said.

County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said the workload for Belich was unrealistic.

"It hampers my efforts too, if my second in command is tied up doing emergency management work to meet state requirements," Lake said. "And if we have something like the flood, that's two solid years of work."

In other matters Monday, commissioners took the following actions:

• Approved a gate fee increase at the Carlton County Transfer Station, following a 1.55 percent rate increase from Western Lake Superior Sanitary District. Rates for mattresses were also increased to $12 for a dry mattress that can be recycled by Good Will and $14.50 for a wet mattress that will need to be landfilled.

• Approved a grant and posting for a Green Corps volunteer to work with the county's recycling program and local schools. This is the third year the county has received the grant. The goal this year is to get all the Cloquet Schools' recycling food waste, called "organics" in the trade, which would divert 20 tons of waste from the landfill.

• Approved a bronze plaque honoring the late Ted Pihlman, a former Carlton County Commissioner, for his dedication to the Moose Lake Carlton County Airport and the surrounding area. The plaque will be dedicated at the annual fly-in breakfast on June 17.