The Fall Meeting of the Pine County Township Officers’ Association was held on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at the Hinckley Community Center, in Hinckley, MN. The meeting was called to order by Chair Katy Overtoom at 9:00 a.m. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chair Katie Overtoom. The Invocation was provided by Katy Overtoom.
Roll call was taken with 23 townships present, establishing a quorum.
Motion made, seconded to approve the minutes from the Spring Meeting, Saturday, March 25, 2023. Copies of the minutes were handed out to the attendees.
We had several speakers:
Ben Karon and Nick Bruesewitz, DNR Conservation Officers talked about the impact the December 2022 storm had in the area. The DNR spent $60,000 to clean the forest roads in the area. They also are maintaining 2500 to 300o wolves in Minnesota with an average wolf pact of 4 to 6 wolves. There is an average of 18 deer per square mile, up from 12. The feed ban has been lifted for deer in Pine County. Also, there isn’t a mandatory CWD testing required for harvested deer. Check with the DNR for deer limit in a particular zone. However, only one buck limit per season, regardless of how you hunt them. You cannot transport a full deer carcass from another state to Minnesota. All deer must be quartered out and must not have any brain material/tissues.
State Senator Jason Rarick District 11 said it was a wild session at the legislature this year. He talked about the SRO (School Resource Officer) situation. There are different interpretations of these issues, i.e., from the State Attorney General and the Hennepin County Attorney. He’s encouraging township officers to reach out to him on matters that impact the townships. The paid family leave act will impact you, especially if you have employees. Townships have the most mileage but get the least in gas tax and other funding. They finally got an increase for transportation for small cities, and this also will be an increase for townships. It’s not a lot, but it’s going in the right direction. He got married last summer to Marion O’Neill, State Representative from the Buffalo area. She’s big into public safety. There is an increase in students going into higher education. Pine County Tech has seen this increase and is an excellent example of higher learning. Their students are getting out and getting job. The next legislative session will start February 12, 2024.
Nathan Nelson, State Senate Representative, District 11B said he was a Clover township supervisor for about nine years. He thanked the supervisors for the work they are doing. He stated that township government is one of the most responsible forms of government. Supervisors can see the need and act on it quite quickly. Senator Rarick covered most of the things he was going to talk about. They got funding for township roads. It’s not a lot, but it’s coming. He mentioned that Broadband is coming along. He talked also about the new sick pay policy that takes effect, January 1, 2024.
Steve Hallan, District 1 Commissioner said good things came out of this past legislative session for Pine County. He’s from Bagley, MN so is Senator Rarick. In 1996, the legislature made a deal that they would pay 55% of the probation budget. Last year they prorated it and only paid 29%. The county had to make that up. They have six probation officers and had to make up 30 percent. So, this year, the state paid what they agreed to in 1996.
About Broadband, you will not get it overnight, but Broadband will be coming to your area in the next the next year or so. ECE has 94 miles of fiber sitting on reels ready to go. Also, SCI and Minco are working on Broadband around Pine City and the Rock Creek area.
He mentioned that he got a call that the demolition land fill east of Rush City is now shut down. There is no place else to bring demolition. The roll off companies have been kept busy. Pine County is a part of a five county (Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Chisago and Pine) landfill area.
Pine County Tech received $21 million dollars to remodel and put in new space.
The jail is only 17 years old, but it doesn’t meet DOC standard anymore. They need $3.5 million dollars to bring it up to code. They are asking the legislature to bond $2.5 million and they will come up with the rest.
Caleb Anderson, zoning, and landfill is moving on to greener pastures. He’s done a lot of great work. It will be big shoe to fill. Someone from the audience asked why Mark LeBrun, the County Engineer didn’t come to the association meeting.
Terry Lovgren, District 3 Commissioner said we have so many positive things going on in Pine County. Reese has been traveling nationwide and because he steps outside of the box, he’s doing amazing things. Terry Fawcett and other people from Human Services and the sheriff’s department are doing an outstanding job and giving them national recognition.
Truancy is a big issue statewide. Human Services people are stepping outside the box and taking time off and visiting families and the kids, to see if they can help them before they must go to court. She’s totally grateful that such employees would take time off in the evening to help those in need.
On November 28, 2023, at 2pm, they are bringing many groups together to try and fix the system (call Terry for details).
According to Terry, it was not the right thing to do, to take Native American children and put them in missions. To make sure that never happens, we are working through it. There are a lot of exciting things coming down and Pine County is at the forefront because of its wonderful employees.
JJ Waldhalm, District 4 Commissioner talked about tax forfeited land. Mentioned the US Supreme Court decision, 9.0, as it pertains to the MN Property Tax Scheme as it related to tax forfeited property in Hennepin County. Mike Couri, attorney chimed in on the floor that it would take the legislature to change that that type of scheme. JJ said he voted no on rebranding Pine County. Said he will follow up and ask Mark LeBrun the County Engineer to come to the association meeting.
Reese Fredrickson, County Attorney – Pine County said his office is extremely busy. It’s the busiest he has seen it. This is his nineth year as County Attorney. He mentioned that he’s fortunate that they have some of the best attorneys around. They have one jury trial once a month. He also talked about a guy who made his own license plate. It went to jury trial and the guy was convicted of a gross misdemeanor. They had a few complaints about township election fraud which he said were all unfounded. He went on to thank all those in township elections for doing a terrific job. He talked about blight in the township and how to cleanup and enforce it. He says he gets weekly calls about it. One of the reasons that crime is up in Pine County is because of Hwy 35 and the casino. Also, mental issues are a big thing.
Jeff Nelson, Sheriff- Pine County – said that he doesn’t have any major announcements. However mental health and the use of chemicals are big issues. Mental health issues have increased, especially how people interact with each other. As a law enforcement officer, he cannot do anything long term or force someone into treatment. However, they can deal with people who need to go to jail but they’ll be out sooner or later.
There has been a big decline in people going into law enforcement. Agencies are stealing from each other. However, they are fortunate to be fully staffed. He encourages the attendees to call his office if they are having problems. They are not staffing SRO in schools. However, they haven’t abandoned the schools and will respond if they have a problem.
Mindy Sandell, Veterans Services – There are 2291 veterans in Pine County bringing in a total of $32,826,000 of resources to the county. They are in desperate need of volunteer drivers to drive veterans to their VA appointments. They average about 20 veteran contacts per week. They have a coffee talk the first Monday of each month in Sandstone and the first Thursday of each month in Pine City.
Tammy Carlson, MN Association of Township District 7 Director – invited Mike Couri to come to the meeting to talk about the Sick and Safe Act, which takes effect in Minnesota, January 1, 2024.
The Minnesota Association of Township Annual Conference is December 7 -9, 2023 at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. They will be voting on several things, including doing away with their current parliamentary procedures. Plus, they will be voting on dues increase.
Monday, November 6, 2023, 1pm, there will be a Zoom link to discuss some of things we’ll vote on. MAT attorney Fenske will be there. Go to MNTownships.org for details.
Township Day at the Capital will be April 8 & 9th, 2024. They will be getting buses from those who are more than an hour away from the Capital to take you there.
More information will also be the association newsletter, The Insider.
Mike Couri, Couri and Ruppe Law Office – spoke about the Earned Safe and Safe Time Act. This will apply to all townships that have employees who work at least 80 hours of work.
An elected officers are not employees. However, if your clerk or treasurer are appointed they are considered employees.
For more details visit https://dli.mn.gov/sick-leave.
Motion made, seconded, and passed to adjourn at 10:45 am.
Respectively submitted by
Glen Williamson Sr.
Pine County Township Officers’ Association
Date Approved: ______________________