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Encroachment policy, shooting park questioned

It is a sad state of affairs when Beltrami County admits it has to be bribed by the state in order to force them to protect the public safety, and then say it intends to protect the current hazards because they've been hazardous for a long time, and they don't want to enforce the law.

How many of the people at the last board meeting, who raised their hands (wanting no policy despite state law that requires one) have right-of-way hazards? Remember, we are a republic; we should not have to live under mob rule because our public officials don't want to inconvenience people who are a danger to the public safety, and want to continue as such. The right-of-way policy may seem like a small issue, but it is indicative of Beltrami County's standard operating procedure in many other areas.

The right-of -way is also the highway for ATVs which Beltrami County seems to be unable and, in many cases, unwilling to enforce the few public safety laws regarding their operation and wants millions in public money to encourage greater public use. The County Board just spent $60,000 to begin the Eckles debacle, and approximately $140,000 in prep work for this project.

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Department said they will refuse to transport mental health crisis patients because they can't afford the $30,000 overtime, and there is no law that says they have to; this in a county that has the highest suicide rate in the state. I'd say that's a public safety issue.

Perhaps they can find the money in the Beltrami County "Recreation Fund" which supposedly has budgeted $6.8 million for Mr. Zeto's children's shooting sports encampment. He says this project was necessary as it was dangerous to continue shooting in gravel pits as they have been doing. This ATV/shooting encampment is sited along the ATV trail that is adjacent to two houses that I know of with predatory sexual offenders.

The attitude of selective enforcement of state and federal laws, and ignoring public safety in favor of "special interest" groups needs to stop. State and federal agencies should take a good look at any money Beltrami County receives and where it is actually being spent, especially those contingent on program compliance. Beltrami County is transparent in some ways.

Thank you, Bemidji Pioneer for your coverage of County Board meetings, and encouraging public discussion.

Sue Safstrom