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Beltrami County Board OKs update to county waste management plan

BEMIDJI - The greening of Beltrami County, which appeared Tuesday night to be in its preliminary stage, may end up becoming a detriment to the bottom line of the facility where waste is processed.

At their meeting Tuesday, the Beltrami County Board approved an update to the county’s waste management plan, as well as a partnership with Polk County and their consultant, Wenck & Associates Inc., to aid in implementation of the plan. Taxpayers have Minnesota Statute 115A. 46. to thank for the required update and its cost, $16,500.

But if efforts are made to make recycling more prevalent in the county, it could have a negative effect on the facility, District 5 Commissioner Jim Lucachick assessed.

“It’s actually bad if we send them a cleaner waste stream, because they don’t have a way, then, to offset their overhead costs,” Lucachick said.

As garbage is processed at at an incinerator in Fosston, recyclables are pulled, organized and sold. William Patnaude, director of environmental services for the county, joined Polk County solid waste administrator Jon Steiner in making their presentation to the board.

“I’m asking to allow us to go into partnership with Polk County so we can get the plan done,” Patnaude said.

In response to District 3 Commissioner’s inquiry into whether there was a plan, Patnaude simply tapped a three-inch thick binder sitting in front of him.

“Right there,” he said.

The discussion of the county’s recycling efforts comes a week and a day after a waste audit, performed by Bemidji State students, began. In the audit, the students pulled recyclable materials from one of the county’s building — the Community Services Center — and found that 40 percent of trash being hauled from the structure consisted of recyclable materials.

Lucachick estimated that many in the county are throwing away much that could be recycled.

“I’d be willing to bet that less than 10 percent of buildings and homes in the county don’t recycle,” he said. “And we’re not punishing those who don’t or rewarding those who do.”

Other Business

-- The board approved an employment service contract with the county’s department of health and human services worth $1,396,004. The contract is worth $45,000 less than last year’s, according to Kay Mack, County Administrator. Lucachick stated his desire to hear more regular updates from the department, citing the fact that the nearly $1.4 million contract represented a sizable portion of the county’s overall budget.

--  The board approved the purchase, at no cost to the county, of a multi-task police dog to be used by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Phil Hodapp and Chief Deputy Ernie Beitel, as stipulated by county statute, were required to ask the permission of the board because the dog’s purchase requires travelling out of state. The animal, like its predecessors, will come from a dog breeding and training company in Evansville, Ind. Beitel said the law enforcement agency currently only has one dog, which is used for drug-sniffing.

-- The board approved, at no cost to the county, a resolution allowing the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office to join the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, or ICAC. The task force technically represents a Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Joint Powers Agreement. The agreement allows law enforcement agencies to utilize funds, provided by the federal government to the task force, in order to obtain equipment and training to be used in the investigation of computer crimes. The task force focuses, specifically, on investigations of the viewing, production and possession of child pornagraphy. Hodapp said that with the increased availability of smart phones, computers and tablets virtually every investigation his department handles involves some kind of electronic forensic evidence. He also said that joining the task force would allow his department to aid smaller agencies, like the Bemidji Police Department, in their investigations involving computer crimes.

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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