By Celeste Rapp

At the Jan. 5 meeting of the Pope County Board of Commissioners, Pope County Coordinator Kersten Kappmeyer called the annual organizational meeting to order.

The first order of business was the nomination and election of board chair for 2021. Commissioner Cody Rogahn nominated Commissioner Paul Gerde for the position of board chair. “I would like to thank Gordy for his work this past year,” said Rogahn. Commissioner Gordy Wagner, who was the board chair for 2020, seconded the nomination. Gerde was elected board chair through a unanimous vote.

Gerde thanked Wagner for his work as chair of the board, saying, “2020 was an extraordinary year. The whole year seemed to be a moving target and still is on this pandemic.” Gerde also thanked Kappmeyer and the rest of the county staff for working through the pandemic.

The next order of business was electing a vice-chair for the board. Wagner nominated Commissioner Larry Lindor for the position and Rogahn seconded. Lindor was elected vice-chair through a unanimous vote.

Also determined during the annual organizational meeting were the county commissioner and officer committee assignments and the appointment of Association of Minnesota Counties policy committee members and voting delegates for 2021. Gerde is on the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee, Lindor is on the General Government Policy Committee, Rogahn is on the Health and Human Services Policy Committee, Commissioner Nan Haggerty is on the Public Safety Policy Committee and Wagner is on the Transportation and Infrastructure Policy Committee. Voting delegates include: Gerde, Lindor, Rogahn, Haggerty, Wagner, Kappmeyer, Pope County Engineer Brian Giese and Pope County Human Services Director Stacy Hennen.

Another annual item was the designation of official depositories for Pope County for 2021. All Pope County banks were designated as official depositories and it was also approved that the auditor-treasurer invest in MAGIC Funds when directed.

The board then designated the Pope County Tribune as the official county newspaper for 2021.

In other business, the board:

• Approved the official proceedings from the Dec. 15, 2020 meeting.

• Approved the official proceedings from Nov. 17, 2020 with revisions.

• Heard the highway department monthly update from Giese. Giese said that the maintenance workers will focus on snow and ice removal over the next month. The engineering staff are completing construction plans which include plans for county state-aid highway (CSAH) 33 and CSAH 18. They hope to have the projects ready for bidding in March. Administratively, Giese had a meeting with Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Cyrus officials to discuss improvements to Hwy. 28. It may impact the city of Cyrus’s schedule for utility replacements and the county’s plans for CSAH 3 improvements. Giese will be serving as president of the MN County Engineer’s Association this year, he stated.

• Approved the highway department hourly equipment and accounts receivable rates. The equipment rates include rates for motor graders, blower trucks, tractors, utility trucks, pickups, etc.

• Approved final payment for SAP 061-020-004. This is the aggregate stockpile project with Ferguson, which produced stockpile for the county. They produced a 20,000 yard aggregate stockpile. The final payment is $10,690.

• Approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for a 1-megawatt community solar garden. Dan Rogers of Nokomis Energy submitted the application on behalf of Larry Adolphsen and Swan Garden, LLC. The garden would be located on a parcel of land owned by Larry Adolphsen in Leven Township. The parcel is zoned as non-intensive agriculture land. There is also a community solar garden currently located 1,000 feet south Adolphsen’s parcel.

• Approved a childcare variance policy for Pope County Human Services. The policy will not consider: capacity variances; capacity changes for infants, they may allow a provider to use a preschool spot for a toddler, but not using a toddler spot for an infant; the provider must be licensed for one year and good standing with no negative actions or corrections orders.

• Approved the Horizon Reception contract. The contract for 2021 costs $8,000 for reception services. This is a decrease of $4,000 from the 2021 cost of $12,000. Reception services include greeting clients and directing clients to Horizon staff, collecting documents from clients and greeting guests and vendors and receiving deliveries.

• Approved the Woodland Centers contract. The contract is for crisis and detox services for 2021. Rates include $580 per diem for detox, $395 for adult crisis per diem, and $555 for youth crisis per diem.

• Approved the Central MN Mental Health Center (CMMHC) Subacute Detox contract. The rate for their services is $500 a day.

• Approved Region 4 South Bylaws. This includes changes to the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between Douglas, Pope, Stevens, Grant and Traverse Counties. The changes include clarification of terminology and clarify that there are recommendations, not appointments to the board.

• Heard about the MNChoices Newsletter. The Department of Human Services contacted the Pope/Grant disabilities supervisor to ask them to participate in a “Tips and Tricks” session which was included in a newsletter.

• Approved the payment of bills of $308,917.23 and supplemental bills of $81,605.41 for a total of $390,522.64.

• Approved the per diem expense reports.

• Approved a policy on temporary remote work, weather and travel.

• Approved ratification of the 2021-2022 labor agreement with the courthouse teamsters.

• Held a closed session for the confidential briefing and communication on labor negotiations strategy pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13D.03.