By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Commission added two new faces to its ranks during the first meeting of 2019. Loren Younggren and Darrel Johnson began their terms as District 3 and District 5 commissioners, respectively, on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
During the regular meeting that same day, the commission voted to keep Commissioner Leon Olson as the chair. Olson accepted on the contingency that the position be rotated. Commissioner Theresia Gillie was voted in as vice chair.
The commission also approved committee appointments and agreed to disband several unnecessary committees.
County Administrator Eric Christensen told the commission that committees, such as budget and employee relations, are unnecessary per the commission’s attorney’s advice.
“With an administrator, I work on a preliminary budget with department heads and then sit down with you and go through it in a working session,” Christensen said to the commission. “You don’t need to meet with a committee beforehand.”
The board voted to remove the following committees: ADA, budget, employee relations, courthouse building, health and safety, and technology.
The board then appointed commissioners and other county personnel to various committees:
• Association of Minnesota Counties – Commissioners Corey Wikstrom, Theresia Gillie, Johnson, Leon Olson, Younggren; Engineer Kelly Bengtson; Administrator Christensen; Social Services Director Kathy Johnson.
• Environmental – Commissioners Johnson, Wikstrom.
• U of M Extension – Younggren, Gillie; Betty Younggren; Lori Wiese.
• General Government – Commissioners Wikstrom, Gillie, Johnson, Olson and Younggren.
• GIS – Assessor Marian Paulson; Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Klegstad; Engineer Bengtson; Administrator Christensen; Emergency Manager Scot Olson; Two Rivers Watershed District Manager Dan Money; Commissioner Wikstrom.
• Kittson County Surveyor – Dan Fischer.
• Law Library Board – Commissioner Olson.
• Local Board of Health – Commissioners Wikstrom, Gillie, Johnson, Olson and Younggren; Cindy Urbaniak, Kittson Memorial Healthcare.
• Local Road Improvement – Commissioners Gillie and Johnson.
• MarKit Landfill Board – Commissioners Johnson and Younggren.
• Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus – Primary, Commissioner Olson; Alternates, Commissioners Gillie, Johnson, Wikstrom, Younggren.
• NW Community Action – Commissioner Olson.
• NW Area Agency on Aging – Commissioner Gillie.
• NW Mental Health Board – Commissioner Gillie.
• NW Emergency Comm. Board – Primary, Commissioner Wikstrom; Alternate, Emergency Manager Olson.
• NW Minnesota Continuum of Care – Social Services Director Kathy Johnson; Social Workers Jocelyn Hauert and Lindsey Lindgren; Commissioner Gillie.
• NW Regional Advisory – Primary, Deputy Klegstad; Alternate, Sheriff’s Office Manager/ Jail Administrator Kelly Kukowski.
• NW Regional Enterprise board – Commissioner Olson.
• NW Regional Development – Commissioner Younggren.
• Personnel and Negotiation – Commissioners Johnson and Olson, Administrator Christensen.
• Purchasing – Commissioners Olson and Wikstrom.
• Quin County Community Health Board – Commissioner Gillie.
• Transportation Ad-visory – Commissioner Gillie.
• Wellness – Commissioner Younggren; Shirley Swenson, Amanda Rynning, Keith Klegstad, Mary Olson, Alyssa Gustafson.
• AMC 2019 Policy Committee appointments – Wikstrom, public safety; Olson, environment and natural resources; Gillie, health and human services; Younggren, transportation; and Johnson, general government.
The commission authorized appropriations from the revenue fund for various entities throughout the county as follows:
• Kittson Soil & Water, ag inspector – $12,100.
• Kittson Soil & Water – $48,000.
• Kittson County Historical Society – $62,000.
• Kittson County Ag Society – $22,400.
• Kittson County Hospice – $8,000.
• Northwest Regional Library – $65,000.
• Emerging Leadership Program – $400.
• Minnesota Red River Development Association – $800.
• RSVP of the Red River Valley – $1,000.
• Kittson County EDA – $10,000.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Approved salaries for Sheriff Mark Wilwant and reinstated Deputy Steve Porter. Wilwant’s salary will be $85,633.60 per year on the D-63-4 pay scale, step 9, which amounts to $41.17 per hour. His salary will be prorated for this year to $80,002.90 as his term started Jan. 8. Porter will be on the C-43-4, Step 8 pay scale, which amounts to $32.13 per hour. Should he work his full hours throughout the year, his annual pay would amount to approximately $66,800.
• Approved the North Star News as its first legal newspaper with a bid of $2.46 per inch to publish legal notices. The commission approved the Kittson County Enterprise as the second legal newspaper for publishing, with a bid of $5.25 per inch.
• Approved an increase in the pocket gopher trapping bounty from 50 cents to $1 for 2019. Commissioner Corey Wikstrom abstained from voting as Wikstrom Telephone Company benefits by also offering a bounty on gophers.
• Approved a resolution appointing Richard M. Lee, Jeffrey W. Hane and Roger C. Malm as assistant county attorneys. Also, commissioners approved the county administrator to issue a monthly allotment of $3,764 to the county attorney to cover office staff and expenses. This is a small increase over 2018.
• Approved a resolution terminating an economic development joint powers agreement from 1994 between Kittson County, and the cities of Hallock, Karlstad, Kennedy, Lake Bronson and Lancaster. Five of those six entities agreed to dissolve the agreement, which allowed the commission to pass the resolution.
• Approved a request from County Engineer Kelly Bengtson to obtain state purchasing bids to purchase a new Case motor grader for the Karlstad shop. This item is budgeted in the highway department for 2019.
• Approved the removal of Ditch 21 from the county’s 2019 levy. The county gave this ditch to the Two Rivers Watershed District, but neglected to remove it from the levy.
• Approved a resolution setting per diems and meal reimbursement amounts for 2019 for commissioners – meetings less than four hours, including travel, $60 per day; meetings more than four hours, including travel, $80 per day; joint ditch meetings with Roseau and Marshall counties, $100 per day; Meal reimbursement up to $10 per day with receipts, $20 for overnight trip can be substituted without receipt; Mileage reimbursement follows IRS rate.
County commission organizes for 2019 – The Kittson County Enterprise
By Anna Jauhola