Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nicollet County Library Board appointed

Once again, history was made at our county board meeting on Tuesday. The board of commissioners adopted By-Laws for the Nicollet County Library Board and we appointed board members as follows: Representing the Nicollet County Library Service Area-Terry Genelin of Lake Prairie Township, Carol Hoffmann of Bernadotte Township, Kathy Wilking of Nicollet Township, and Krisy Zajac of the city of Nicollet. Representing the city of St. Peter will be Mary Ann Hanson and representing the city of North Mankato will be Jodi Gager.

This board will be charged with developing policy regarding library services for the people who live in the cities of Nicollet, Lafayette, and Courtland and for the people who live in the 13 townships. I will be the county commissioner, representing the Nicollet County Board. The county commissioner position will also be the President of the Library Board and will be the county’s representative on the Traverse des Sioux Regional Library Board. end

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Children's Mental Health

One of the good things that happened during this past session of the legislature is the funding of the I-90 Children's Mental Health project. These funds will help counties in southern Minnesota meet the needs of children. It is sad to say that each year, we have more children that need help with mental health problems. In Nicollet County we have seen the number increase from 25 open cases in 1997 to 63 open cases today. It should be noted that there may be more than one child included in a case. Nicollet county currently has 37 children in out of home placement and that is not good. Out of home placements are made for a number of reasons and it is estimated that six to eight of the 37 are placed because of mental health.

Psychiatric treatment is hard to come by in rural areas. There is a shortage of psychiatrists in general and severe shortage in doctors trained to deal with children. Also the county case workers have to place children in facilities as far away as Grand Rapids and Duluth. This means costly visits paid for my the county as the case workers need to visit at least once a month. Some other facilities are in St. Cloud, the Metro area, Owatonna, or Hutchinson. None are very close by. Families too, are stretched to the limits as they attempt to keep some semblance of family life while one of the children is in placement. Unfortunately, Nicollet County staff do not see a leveling off or decrease in these trends. end

Thursday, June 14, 2007

U of M coming to New Sweden!

Dairy Training Management Facility
This week the Nicollet County Board heard a presentation by Professor John Fetrow of the U of M Veterinary Population Medicine Department., College of Veterinary Medicine. The University will partner with a private dairy (Northern Plains Dairy) in a 10 year agreement to build an educational facility on the New Sweden site. The Davis Family Dairy will also build a 2,500-cow barn on the site. The training facility will be similar to a present facility they are using that is located in Baldwin, Wisconsin. This facility will offer an atypical approach for dairy education and research. It will be used for training veterinary students who are in their senior year, in dairy medicine. Students will be housed at the site and typically there will be eight students there for a two-week period. The Wisconsin facility has students “in house” approximately 20 weeks out of the year.

The facility will have a free stall dairy barn with an appendage building that will be used for a classroom-this will allow teaching upstairs and applying concepts learned downstairs. This will be the principle site for teaching diagnosis medicine. It will allow students to observe the normal routine of cows on a twenty-four hour basis. They will see many births and will see first hand a difficult calving. They will see all phases of a cow’s life. It is anticipated that this facility will also be used by students from other veterinary colleges in the Midwest and Canada. There is a possibility that it could be a national center for training veterinary students from all over the world.

The University is pleased to develop this partnership between the Veterinary College and Northern Plains dairy and the Le Sueur Cheese plant. It will allow for a systems approach from the production of milk and then to the processing of cheese. This is the “Farm to Fork Concept” that allows examination of processes and pursuance of excellence in each area. The potential is there for this site to become a “go to place” to train dairy managers. Involved parties are working out the agreements and the county has received no applications as of this time. end

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Powerful Pawlenty

The governor’s veto of the tax bill this past week meant that a simple signature of the most powerful man in the state depleted the coffers of Nicollet County by $94,320. This amount would have been an increase from our present (2007) program aid. That new revenue would certainly have gone a long way toward paying our yearly bill to transport prisoners to other counties since our own jail is full to the brim. OR it could have been used in a myriad of other ways that could very well be pro-active methods to keep our citizens away from the Criminal Justice System. So much for the could have’s. It is only by “learning the lesson the hard way” and the typical kicking and screaming that visionary leaders drag governments into pro-active behavior and programs.

· Did you know that local units of government are held to a higher standard? We must abide by the open meeting law, but somehow the governor and legislature can cut deals behind closed doors. The reason: because they make the rules.

· Did you know that since the year 2002, counties have received a 22% reduction in state aids – but managed to keep property tax increases at 6%?

· Did you know that late in the session the concept of a “Dime a Drink” tax –nooooo, it was an alcohol impact fee- was proposed? It would have brought in the same amount of revenue as the fourth tier income tax. The fee would have brought in much needed money to deal with the law enforcement costs, court costs, jail costs, detox costs, rehab costs, domestic abuse costs, etc. that are generated from the over consumption of alcohol. If tobacco free environments are good for public health and the economy ---- discouraging the over consumption of alcohol is a hundred times better.

· Did you know that the Minnesota House of Representatives can bring up the Transportation bill during the first three days of the next session and attempt another override of the Governor’s veto? I hope they do and I hope that folks in districts with members who voted to uphold the veto get to work and put pressure on their Republican representatives. end