Todd County coordinator contract postponed

Rod Erickson is new board chair

After some discussion at their Jan. 3 meeting, the Todd County Commissioners tabled the hiring of Joseph Hatch as county coordinator until their Jan. 17 meeting.

Commissioner David Kircher had asked if they were doing a contract and what the length of the contract would be.

Commissioner Rod Erickson said it was not set, but they had been talking about a three year contract with the first year being probationary.

Kircher said he was nervous about getting into a three year contract.

Human Resources Karla Nalezny said that there was a stipulation that either party could end the agreement of employment with a 30 day notice.

Commissioner Barb Becker said that she would like to see a shorter contract as they had only seen him twice. She added that Hatch had indicated he would need 30 days before coming to the county.

Kircher said that if they had to terminate Hatch within the one year probation period, it should be immediate because 30 days would give time to sabotage things in the county.

Commissioner Randy Neumann said that he agreed with Kircher and if they terminated him during probation because it was not working out, that termination would be immediate.

Auditor/Treasurer Denise Gaida suggested the board wait until the Jan. 17 meeting until the contract is all drafted and drawn up.

Kircher said they needed to make sure all their t’s were crossed and i’s dotted.

“The last one we hired and two days later she gave her notice,” said Kircher.

Bike MS: TRAM 2017

After a presentation made by Luan Brunkhorst, the Long Prairie Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, the board approved hosting the Bike MS Tram  (The Ride Across Minnesota) group at the Todd County Fairgrounds at no cost for an overnight use. The 277 mile bicycle ride begins in Alexandria with stops in Long Prairie on July 19, Wadena, Fergus Falls and then back to Alexandria.

The event is a fund raising effort for multiple sclerosis research and support.

Between 600 and 700 cyclists will head for Long Prairie following check-in on July 19. They will have a refreshment stop in Clotho at the United Methodist Church.

There were some questions raised as to whether the grounds will be ready on July 19 as the Todd County Fair takes place just days prior. However, according to Commissioner Gary Kneisl, the cleanup usually takes place the Monday and Tuesday following the fair so by Wednesday, July 19 it should be ready for use.

Brunkhorst also asked if a couple of buildings could be open for shade if it is a hot day.

Gaida said that last year when the group stopped in Browerville it was amazing.

Neumann commented that a few years back, Osakis had hosted them and his church had made tons of spaghetti for the cyclists.

Organizational items

As part of their first regular board meeting of the year, commissioners set their official designations and committee assignments for  2017.

Barbara Becker, District 1; Rodney Erickson, District 3; and Randy Neumann, District 5; took the oath of office as they were re-elected Nov. 8.

Also taking his oath of office as an appointed official was Assessor Chris Odden.

Erickson became the chair following the rotation the board has followed and Neumann became the vice-chair.

The next order of business was setting the appointment to the Todd-Wadena County Corrections Executive Committee and Advisory Board. Kircher and Becker agreed to stay on these committees.

The board next designated the official newspapers as the Staples World, Independent News Herald, Browerville Blade and Long Prairie Leader. The rate was set at $9.95 per column inch which is divided between the four county newspapers as part of a cooperative agreement. The rate was $9.75 last year.

Kircher questioned if this was in the budget.

As was stated in the bid letter, the amount had been sent earlier in the year at the request of Auditor/Treasurer Denise Gaida for budgeting purposes. 

The extra publication newspaper was also set by the board, again with the four county newspapers. The rate was approved at $7.80 per column inch which is the same rate as last year.

The board set their 2017 board protocol and their 2017 board meeting dates schedule which continues to be the first and third Tuesday of each month with the following changes noted: the July 4 meeting will be rescheduled to July 5 and the year-end meeting will be on December 28.

The date of the Association of Minnesota Counties conference was discussed as it typically interferes with another December meeting date. The board agreed they would reschedule that meeting, if needed, when the time came.

Neumann asked about the board meetings no longer being recorded.

Gaida said that recordings can be made for the clerk for the purpose of assisting with their writing up the minutes, but would then be null and void after the minutes are written.

She added that the meeting can also be recorded in some instances for county department use only. The recording would not be an official document and only be for county use.

Neumann relayed that MCIT (Minnesota Counties Intergovenmental Trust) was concerned about it not being recorded.

He said that he would be checking with AMC (Association of Minnesota Counties) to see how many of the other 87 counties record their board meetings.

The final designations, the board made for the 2017 committee appointments, were also completed with very few changes. The coordinator - once hired - will also be designated to attend select committee meetings.

According to Gaida, an updated list of the committees will be available on the county website soon. The county website is:

In other business:

o Accepted a grant from Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources that provides low income landowners a septic cost share. The grant will be implemented through the Long Prairie Drinking Water System Management Area.

An inventory of septic system compliance was conducted during 2015-2016 by planning and zoning staff within the critical area of the city of Long Prairie DWSMA. The work identified systems not meeting SSTS standards. 

A follow-up grant was received to cost share replacement SSTS systems within the DWSMA for applicants that meet low income levels as set by USDA. 

The grant will provide $79,054 for system cost share and approximately $7,000 for staff time to administer the grant.

o At their meeting on Dec. 29, the board approved the additional increase of the sheriff’s salary in the amount of $1,569 for 2017. The board approved the transfer of funds from part-time wages to elected officials salary within the 2017 sheriff’s budget.

The $1,569 was an increase requested by Kircher.

o Approved the hire of Lewis Noska as a wetland conservation officer for the Soil and Water Conservation District Office.

o With Neumann opposed, the board approved the start date of March 1, 2017, for increasing the municipal solid waste tipping fees.

As reported from a previous meeting, the board approved the increase of the per pound Municipal Solid Waste disposal fee from $0.05 to $0.07. They also approved the increase of the per ton MSW disposal fee from $90 to $94 per ton.

o Approved the 2017 tobacco licenses.

o A Care Coordinator position exists within the Adult/Disability Unit. At the board meeting on Nov. 15, 2016, this position was approved to be filled by either a Registered Nurse or Social Worker.

The board approved the hire of Lisa Thielman, Social Worker, to fill the position contingent upon the successful completion of a required background check and employee physical.

o Approved the hire of two eligibility workers - Jackie Ballou and Michelle Pietz following a successful background check and employee physical.


Advertising Deadlines

Deadline for advertisements and copy is Friday, noon.

Staples World

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 100 Staples, MN 56479 Telephone: (218) 894-1112 - Fax: (218) 894-3570 Toll Free: 1-888-894-1112 E Mail:;

Deadline: Friday, noon


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