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Commission approves sheriff’s office to apply for USDA loan

By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Sheriff’s Office will be researching the possibility of applying for a low-interest loan for future remodeling of the jail area.
Sheriff Mark Wilwant and Deputy Terry Bayne visited with the county commissioners during their first regular meeting of 2020 on Tuesday, Jan. 7 at the courthouse in Hallock. Wilwant and Bayne said the Minnesota Department of Corrections frowns on the public being inside or having any access to the jail area.
“Which means you can’t be within earshot or eyeshot of a prisoner,” Wilwant said.
As it sits, public visitors are able to see and hear prisoners in different situations. Bayne created a rough computer sketch of the sheriff’s office and changes they’d like to see made, which included using the current driver’s license testing room. His plan called for splitting the driver’s license room in two, using the north half as a new lobby and the south half as dispatch, with a service window in between.
County Administrator Eric Christensen said that’s not feasible. The driver’s license room is used as a meeting room in addition to the meeting room on the upper level.
“We can’t give up that whole room for the sheriff’s office,” Christensen said.
The commissioners discussed whether the county could convert the former courthouse diner area into a meeting room. While it’s possible, the cost would be significant to make that space handicap accessible.
For the time being, the commission approved Bayne and Wilwant to research the possibility of obtaining a low-interest loan from the USDA to pay for the project. They will revisit any kind of plans in the future.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved Commissioner Theresia Gillie as the chairperson for the board of commissioners for 2020.
•Approved Commissioner Loren Younggreen as the vice-chairperson for 2020.
• Approved the Kittson County Enterprise as the county’s official newspaper for 2020.
• Approved committee appointments for 2020. Gillie is now on the Law Library Board and Personnel and Negotiation Committee. Olson is now on the Kittson County Loan Pool board. All other appointments remained the same.
• Approved replacing the assessor’s office’s current computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) software with Vanguard at the cost of $42,802.50, with an annual fee of $11,240.
• Approved an annual contract with Northwest Mental Health Center.
• Approved allocation of $32,000 from the social services reserves to provide administrative support for Kittson Home Health Care, which provides home care and assistance for approximately 19 social services clients each month.
• Accepted, with regret, a letter of resignation from Melissa Lundeen, fiscal officer for social services, effective in September 2020 so she can help train her replacement.
• Approved an FMLA request for social worker Jocelyn Hauert.
• Approved Sheriff Mark Wilwant to purchase a Ford F150 4×4 crew cab truck for $34,574 from C&M Ford with a Chevrolet truck trade-in at $11,000.
• Approved a mutual aid agreement between Kittson County and Pembina County, N.D., to share assets in emergency disasters.
• Approved Commissioner Loren Younggren as the county public information officer (PIO), per the request of Emergency Manager Scot Olson.
• Approved a resolution to authorize the county administrator to issue $4,150 monthly to the county attorney for monthly office staff and expenses.
• Approved annual pocket gopher reimbursement bounty at $1.
• Set tax-forfeited land sale for Wednesday, April 8 at 10 a.m.

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