eastern healCommentary – County commissioners list accomplishments

Douglas County taxpayers can be very grateful for all the excellent employees of the county who work hard each day to provide the services needed in a timely, efficient manner. Thank a county employee next time you see one.

Grants are also coming for the purchase of 33.3 acres of land to expand Lake Brophy Park.

Bill Flaig has done an exemplary job as CEO of Douglas County Hospital for 28 yeastern healCommentary – County commissioners list accomplishmentsears. Twice Bill has brought the hospital to the National Designation as a Top 100 Hospital. He is highly respected by employees, the community and his peers statewide and beyond. Bill will be missed, and we wish the very best for him and Barb.

Like a great many of you, the county has made numerous cuts, combined services where we can and taken no salary increases. We, the commissioners, have not taken any salary or per diem increases for three years. Additionally, the department heads have had no increase for the last two years and weve given no county employee an increase for this year.

Our land and resource department has worked the past year in revising the countys comprehensive plan. It should be completed by the summer of this year. Remember, if you have input regarding land uses, etc. in the comprehensive plan, call land and resource management at (320) 762-3863.

With the push by the DNR to help stop the spread of zebra mussels, the board approved closing the channel between lakes Victoria and Geneva. The channel is now in the process of being re-opened as mussels were found in Lake Victoria.

A study of highways throughout the county has been conducted in cooperation with the city of Alexandria. In particular, certain intersections have been identified to need attention be it stop signs, better lighting, stop lights or other suggestions determined by the study. Named most important in needing attention is County 82 and the entry to the YMCA, County 46 and 106 (Pioneer Road), County 90 and 45 and County 40 and 8, the Barrett Road.

We did not increase the levy for 2011, keeping it the same as 2010.

Some of the projects theyve been involved in are the Groundwater Protection Project, which identifies and halts threats from abandoned wells and non-compliant septic systems, stormwater runoff and erosion threats from municipal and rural sources, shoreline restoration, rain garden initiatives and more. Douglas County Natural Resources Conservation Services and Douglas County Soil and Water received $8 million for the Wetland Reserve Enhancement program. Weve reaped numerous rewards from the fine work of the Sauk River Watershed District.

Like a great many of you, the county has made numerous cuts, combined services where we can and taken no salary increases. We, the commissioners, have not taken any salary or per diem increases for three years. Additionally, the department heads have had no increase for the last two years and weve given no county employee an increase for this year.

The Sauk River Watershed, which serves the eastern part of Douglas County, has been very successful in obtaining grants and loans to improve our water quality and the environment. Some of the dollars have come from the Legacy Fund, which voters approved in 2008. The watershed, formed in 1986, begins at the headwaters on Lake Osakis then goes on to St. Cloud where it flows into the Mississippi.

eastern healCommentary – County commissioners list accomplishments,By Douglas County Commissioners Bev Bales, Norm Salto, Paul Anderson, Jerry Johnson and Dan Olson

The new jail came in with over a million dollars savings that is in addition to the approximate $2 million saved by using existing offices for jail administration, which were previously occupied by the county public works department. eastern health vicThe jail committee, headed by two commissioners, along with the construction management company, have to be commended for their due diligence in this project to keep costs down, which includes the savings of approximately $150,000 in the contingency and general conditions funds. The board approved hiring Aviands Food Service to provide the meals for the jail, which will save taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Were very pleased to announce that Sheriff Troy Wolbersen and his staff have concurred to have their offices remain in the north end of the services center building (with board approval), which will save taxpayers millions over building new. The dispatch office will also remain there. With some remodeling, including more efficient windows, changes in some wall structures, floor covering and painting, the sheriff felt this cility will accommodate them well into the future, perhaps more than two decades, depending on department growth. The new ARMER system for 800 megahertz is under way. Federal grant money came for all fire departments in the county to get radios for the 800 mehahertz.


Along with the new jail project is the remodeling of the old jail for courts holding, which is being done now. To accommodate future needs of more courtrooms, part of the area has been framed in for completion when needed.

With the endorsement of the entire county board, Bev Bales is leading the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Douglas County. The program is designed to help veterans, both active and inactive, and their milies with numerous needs from transportation, financial planning, medical needs and everyday tasks. The public is asked to contact us when you learn of a need by a veteran or veterans mily. Or you may call (320) 762-7817, the National Guard office. The help of the entire county is needed to identify and assist these people who are giving so much on our behalf.

With the retirement of 37-plus years employee Colleen Boesen, Danita Ward was promoted to the license director position.

The county is combining with other counties for some services in public health, for example, weve joined with four other counties and we are looking into perhaps combining other services with surrounding counties to save dollars. Were asking departments to keep vehicles longer and to buy used wherever practical. Through PrimeWest (two county commissioners serve on this committee), the county approved the Values Health program, which helps those who are employed, but have no health insurance to get it at a very reasonable cost.

Our county hospital recently completed a $31 million addition with no tax dollars. Heartland Orthopedics occupies part of the new addition and the combination of the hospital and that clinic is working out very well. CEO of the Douglas County Hospital, Bill Flaig, is retiring this year and a new CEO has been selected, Carl Vaagenes, former CEO of Unity Family Healthcare in Little Falls. Were very pleased Mr. Vaagenes has accepted this important position as he comes highly recommended and has over 20 years of healthcare executive leadership experience in creating and operating rural integrated health care delivery systems.

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