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Douglas County Board Meeting April 2 2024

Posted: 04/03/2024

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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Douglas County Commissioners learned the latest information on how the U of M Extension program is serving county residents, how the local office of the Minnesota Department of Corrections plans to improve probation services, and how opioid settlement dollars will be put to good use. They also proclaimed April as the Month of the Young Child in Douglas County.

The commissioners met on April 2. Extension educators, and support staff, started the meeting by highlighting the positive impact made by 4-H and other Extension programs in Douglas County. Jackie Kokett said educators are interacting with the public on a regular basis. For example, they go into eight of the county’s elementary schools for workshops, and hands-on activities. She said they work with community clubs and are extremely active with the county fair. Rylee Bundermann, who is a Lake Mary Troopers 4-H club member, shared a moving story of how 4-H helped her find her voice and gave her the confidence to become a Leaders Council officer, county youth leader and more. Horticulture educator Robin Trott said she works with the county’s master gardeners and now has partnerships with the Alexandria Newcomers, the Douglas County Library, and the Dementia Friends initiative which partnered children at the Alexandria YMCA, master gardeners and seniors for a raised garden project. Trott is also a cut flower farmer and told commissioners about the huge interest in this topic. Trott can help any resident deal with challenges of gardening, the proper way to plant, trim and grow shrubs and trees, and how to manage bugs and critters. People are encouraged to call the Extension Office at 320-762-3871 or visit in person. Extension is now located in the courthouse at 305 8th Avenue W in Alexandria.

Social Services Director Laurie Bonds and Amy Reineke, with Horizon Public Health, shared the first approved application for opioid settlement dollars. The county has a task force to screen applicants and asked the board to approve up to $2,500 for Unity Recovery to host the 3rd Annual Alexandria Area Recovery Resource Fair. This event shares information from multiple local service providers to people in recovery, people seeking recovery, and families of those struggling. The event is April 18 at Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria. 

Bonds also asked commissioners to approve three resolutions for the annual Senior Expo organized by the Douglas County TRIAD. TRIAD includes the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Senior Services Coordinator, the Alexandria Police Department, and local senior citizens. The Expo provides an opportunity for experts to share information on avoiding and reporting frauds and scams that target older people. The following have donated $300 each to sponsor the event: Evansville Care Center, Alomere Health, and the Douglas County Veteran’s Service Office. The Senior Expo is June 12 at St. Mary’s in Alexandria. It’s a free event with lunch served by law enforcement. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.

Les Gruwell and Willie Swanson with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) summarized key components of the department’s 2024 comprehensive plan. The DOC leases office space in the county to provide services to those on probation locally. Gruwell said in 2024 probation agents will help those under probation supervision have a better understanding of behaviors and thinking that places them at risk for ongoing criminality. Commissioner Jerry Rapp asked if steps in the plan benefit the criminal more than the citizen. Gruwell responded that if his agents can help rehab the client, the community benefits. He said they’ve learned there is a place for jail but if that’s the only priority it may make things worse. He also said they’ll focus on developing a more complete pre-trial program to maximize court appearance compliance and focus on the group of clients that will benefit most from their interventions.

Finally, board members proclaimed April the Month of the Young Child in Douglas County. Sarah Olson is the Early Childhood Initiative Coordinator of Douglas County. She shared the importance of early childhood education. The proclamation says in part, “participation in high-quality early childhood education saves taxpayers dollars, makes working families more secure, and prepares children to succeed in school, earn higher wages and live healthier lives.

The next board meeting is April 16 at 9 a.m. in the Douglas County Administration Building.


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