BEMIDJI -- Beltrami County is receiving more than $600,000 from the federal government as part of the recovery process from damage caused by 2018 summer storms.

During the county's Board of Commissioners’ work session Tuesday, Emergency Management Director Christopher Muller said paperwork had been completed for federal relief.

On June 29, the county was hit by an intense severe thunderstorm, producing winds up to 100 mph. In the following four weeks, Muller said the county was impacted by at least five tornadoes and six strong wind events, causing widespread damage, including a tornado on July 4. Beltrami County declared a state of emergency in July and on Sept. 5, the collective weather events were given a federal declaration of emergency.

Over the past 10 months, Muller’s department has worked with both the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as Homeland Security and Emergency Management on securing the funding. In all, Muller reported Tuesday, the county is receiving $678,935.70, with the amount directed to several communities and agencies:

  • Beltrami County Highway Department, $365,947.31.
  • Beltrami Electric Cooperative, $238,008.87
  • City of Bemidji, $25,363.98.
  • Red Lake Nation, $24,095.09.
  • City of Kelliher, $18,179.87.
  • Beltrami County Natural Resources Management, $7,340.58.

Muller's data also showed the highest cost needs were debris removal and utility work:

  • Debris removal, $427,007.66.
  • Utility repair, $205,893.17.
  • Parks and recreation, $24,095.09.
  • State grant management, $11,333.76.
  • Emergency protective measures needed, $7,221.02.
  • Roads and bridges, $3,385.

A total of 75 percent of the funding comes from the federal government, while 25 percent comes from the state.

Law enforcement updates

The Beltrami County board also was given law enforcement updates from Sheriff Ernie Beitel and Chief Deputy Jarrett Walton Tuesday.

In his presentation, Walton requested the commissioners approve renewing membership in a  multi-agency law enforcement joint powers agreement between the state, through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office. The agreement is to keep the sheriff's office part of the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Walton said county investigators have received training, equipment, computer software and reimbursement for overtime as a member of the agreement. According to Walton, the state's program works through a federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which assists law enforcement nationwide.

The renewal was included in the board's consent agenda during their regular meeting Tuesday, which it approved.

In his report, Beitel brought forward some recent numbers from the county jail. The jail had 298 inmates in January, 328 in February and 322 in March. Beitel expanded on the numbers from March, noting how 35 inmates received mental health care, eight had contraband and five were given treatment for drugs.