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Advisory committee's facilitator resigns

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The panel reviewing Stevens County's building proposal will have to continue without its facilitator.

Deb Hengel, of Elbow Lake, resigned her position after learning that her oldest daughter was killed in a car crash Thursday near Olivia.

Hengel, a professional facilitator and consultant, informed Stevens County Coordinator Jim Thoreen of her resignation Friday.

Hengel was hired to lead the 11-person Stevens County Citizens/County Board Building Project Advisory Committee through its weekly meeting schedule.

Thoreen will facilitate the Monday, April 13 discussion, which features representatives from Klein McCarthy Architects and Contegrity Group, the project's management firm.

Thoreen will seek direction from the committee on Monday regarding a facilitator for the remainder of the committee's meetings. The panel was formed after the county board delayed for 90 days bond sales for the jail portion of the project. The committee is charged with submitting a report before a May 15 deadline to complete its review.

On Monday, the county board will meet in a work session with KMA and Contegrity to review two alternate plans for the building project. This week, the board passed a resolution requesting two optional plans, one that includes courthouse renovations and construction of a law enforcement center but no jail, and a second option that calls for courthouse renovations but no construction of a law enforcement center and jail. The board also agreed to delay a call for bids on the project. The board was set to advertise for bids in mid-April.

The board meets with KMA and Contegrity at 3 p.m. at the courthouse. The advisory panel meets at 6 p.m. in the courthouse.

The county board approved the $15 million project last summer, but opposition cropped up late in the year, leading to the formation of the Stevens County Taxpayers Committee, which is primarily concerned about the scope and costs associated with the jail construction.

In other county board business Tuesday:

• The commissioners discusses options for the management of the county's ambulance service.

Currently, the Stevens County Ambulance Service is operating under an interim management agreement with North Memorial Ambulance Service, which has a regional branch in Alexandria.

However, the interim agreement expires in November, and North wants to work on long-term management plan, Thoreen said.

The county board made no decision but did discuss three options: Selling the ambulance service; entering into a long-term agreement with North; or hiring an administrator to operating the SCAS.

SCAS management operations were turned over the North after former director, Ron Flannigan, resigned to accept a teaching position last year.

• County Highway Engineer Brian Giese said the county has advertised for bids for milling and overlay work on County State Aid Highway 9 from Albert to County Road 18 near Donnelly.

The advertised bid letting date is May 1, and Giese said he will bring the bids to the board for awarding at its May 5 meeting.

Giese also informed the board that the county has incurred about $12,000 in expenses related to flood control this spring.

Giese's four-year appointment as county engineer expires in May and he requested a re-appointment.

• The county board passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency related to flood problems.

The move is a formality to be eligible for assistance to local units of government if needed, Thoreen said.

Currently, the threshold for aid is rated at $3.20 per capita in damages to the public. That means Stevens County's threshold would be about $32,000 in damages, and estimates indicate the county has sustained about $50,000 in damages from flooding on roadways, he said.