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Douglas County Board Meeting May 7 2024

Posted: 05/08/2024

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted against the petition to create an Osakis Lake Improvement District. That decision came at the May 7 board meeting. Before the vote, board chair Keith Englund said commissioners have spent a great deal of time meeting with people both for and against establishing a Lake Improvement District.

Those if favor of the Lake Improvement District had previously stated it would be run by an elected board of directors who would propose improvement projects including additional efforts to prevent the introduction of new Aquatic Invasive Species, reducing the fluctuation of the lake level, and monitoring water quality. The initial budget would have come from an assessment of $65 per landowner within the Tier I zone.

Commissioner Jerry Rapp then recapped observations and concerns compiled from the Todd County Attorney following an April 16 public hearing. They include the following: 

  • Some Osakis Lake property owners do not want any additional taxes on their properties, or any expanded form of government.
  • The Sauk River Watershed District (SRWD) is already a taxing authority for Osakis Lake property owners; the Osakis LID would impose a second tax on them for presumably the same purposes.
  • SRWD is already working on projects within the Osakis Lake Watershed, including Judicial Ditch 2.
  • While the proposed Osakis LID would only impact “Tier I” property owners for now, there’s concern that “Tier II” or “Tier III” property owners could be subjected to Osakis LID taxation in the future.

The vote to deny the LID was 4 to 1. Board Chair Keith Englund voted against the denial saying the costs for improving the lake should be borne equally. “This is a hot topic,” he said. “The Lake Association has been doing some things now and in past years but the people that aren’t paying are getting the benefit as well.” He added, “I know there’s some disappointed people out there.”

Those in favor of the LID are still able to petition the DNR. 

Social Services

Director Laurie Bonds and Amy Reineke, a Community Health Strategist with Horizon Public Health, presented a request for opioid settlement funds from Unity Recovery which is an outpatient treatment program in Alexandria. Unity Recovery asked for funds to expand events for those in recovery that support socialization and connections to the community. These would be open to not only people in recovery but their family and friends as well. The board approved the request for up to $5,000.

The board of commissioners also proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month in Douglas County. The proclamation outlines that scientific research is producing tremendous breakthroughs in the understanding of mental illness, resulting in more effective treatments that allow people to get back to a more productive life.

However, commissioners heard that many challenges remain here in Douglas County:

  • There is a long wait to see a psychiatrist or therapist for an initial appointment.
  • When people are experiencing a mental health crisis, they often first go to the Emergency Room for help. There can be a long wait to be evaluated and, if the person needs in-patient psychiatric hospitalization, they need to be brought to a facility more than 60 miles away. Most often, a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy provides the transportation.
  • There is also a need for a crisis/respite facility for those not needing hospitalization. There is a four-bed mental health crisis facility under construction in Hoffman which should open this fall.

Becky Schmitz, executive director of Vikingland Community Support program in downtown Alexandria, also invited commissioners to participate in the Walk for Mental Health which is May 17 at 11:30 a.m. Participants will walk from Vikingland Community Support program at 1106 Broadway to Alexandria City Hall and back. That will be followed by a light lunch, music, and a great chance to learn more about what’s needed to address the challenges of mental health issues and how all of us can be impacted by the ripple effects.

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson received approval to award the low bid for application of calcium chloride to Crow River Construction and pavement marking was awarded to low bidder Sir Lines-A-Lot.

Commissioners also approved repairs on County Road 82 from Lake Victoria to Osakis. The work will be done by Eagle Concrete Contracting.

And, following a request from the city and school district in Osakis, the county will revise the no parking area on the west side of 1st Avenue East to no parking on school days from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

County Coordinator

Horizon Public Health was given permission to use the courthouse lawn for their annual butterfly release event. The event honors past patients in the Douglas County Hospice program. It will be held August 6 at 5:30 p.m.

The next Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting will be held May 21 at 9 a.m. in the Administration Building located at 821 Cedar Street, Alexandria.



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