County Notes (4/18/13)

WashCo_logoThree county departments to add staff

Three Washington County departments will hire staff for jobs ranging from in-home nursing visits, security in county parks and an additional assistant county attorney, the Board of Commissioners learned Tuesday.

The Community Services Department adult mental health unit will add one registered nurse through a state Department of Human Services grant. Commissioners approved the additional position Tuesday.

The nurse will be hired through a $128,000 grant that pays for staff costs, benefits and expenses. The hiring will be done with the State Operated Services from July 1 through June 30, 2014.

The new nurse will provide in-home nursing services for an individual with a serious and persistent mental illness to assure their success living independently and prevent hospitalizations.

Commissioners also approved a request from Sheriff Bill Hutton to hire one full-time and two half-time deputies to exclusively patrol the county’s parks.

Historically, park staff handled security duties. But a 75 percent increase in county park visitors that last 15 years, with more than 1.6 million park visitors and a rise in documented incidents in parks last year, increased the need for public safety.

Although WCSO deputies occasionally patrol county parks and answer calls from park staff, no deputies are permanently assigned to parks. That situation is a problem in Lake Elmo when deputies patrolling the city respond to Lake Elmo Park Reserve calls.
The County Attorneys’ Office will add an attorney in its juvenile division after commissioners approved the request Tuesday.

County Attorney Pete Orput said an increase in juvenile cases, case complexities, number of serious physical and chronic neglect cases, increased need to address truancy and school safety issues to divert juveniles from the criminal justice system led to his request for another juvenile division attorney.

Orput added that the on-going need for the new position would be reviewed as part of the 2015 budget process.

Local agency to manage volunteers

Local non-profit Community Thread will continue recruiting and managing Washington County’s Medical Reserve Corps-registered volunteers after the Board of Commissioners approved a nearly $55,000 contract Tuesday.

It will be the ninth year the Community Thread will manage the Medical Reserve Corps. The cost is paid by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and state Department of Health Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

The Medical Reserve Corps is a national Citizens Corps initiative to mobilize and coordinate volunteers responding to all sorts of disasters. The agreement calls for Community Thread to:

  •  Maintain a system of health care professional volunteers, including volunteer readiness, deployment and response.
  • Recruit health care and related support volunteers and provide credential verification.
  • Provide volunteer orientation and training coordinated with the county Department of Public Health and Environment.
  • Develop and maintain non-emergency public health volunteer roles within DPHE, strengthen public health services emergency response initiatives.

Radio tower will be lowered

A Somerset, Wis., radio tower owned by Washington County will be lowered and get new lights after the Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved a $169,500 contract for the work.

The 1,050-foot tower will be lowered to 350 feet and the county will lower its microwave dish on the tower to 346 feet so the microwave systems continues operating.
The work will be paid by an emergency management system grant.

Once the tower height is 350 feet and the lights replaced, the tower will not need major work for 20 to 30 years. The county will continue inspecting the tower and guy wires, but it will be less expense with a lower tower.

The Somerset tower was constructed in 1986 as a 1,050-foot broadcast tower for a Twin Cities FM radio station. The county bought the towner in 2008 to use in its 800 MHz radio system. The highest county antenna mounted on the tower is the microwave dish at 400 feet. All other antennas are below the microwave dish and the county does not need to mount antennas higher in the future.