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County board approves active shooter exercise for May

MORRIS, Minn. - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners approved an intruder/active shooter exercise at the Stevens County Courthouse for May and signed a memorandum of understanding with Pope County for a Veterans Justice Corps position funded through AmeriCorps at their regular meeting on Tuesday.

Active shooter exercise planned for May

On Tuesday, May 8, Stevens County personnel will participate in an intruder/active shooter exercise at the courthouse after the board approved closing the courthouse during the exercise.

The exercise is designed to assess how well personnel are able to "detect, identify, monitor and respond" to an intruder in the courthouse building.

The courthouse will be closed for about an hour - from 2:30 to about 3:30 p.m. - during the exercise, said Sheriff Randy Willis. Willis said there would be personnel standing outside the courthouse to help direct residents and answer questions.

According to information provided by Willis, the exercise will start with an intruder entering the courthouse and taking a county employee hostage. The employee will call 911 to report the incident, and local emergency responders will be dispatched.

After the exercise, there will be a scheduled debriefing to discuss the exercise.

Veterans Justice Corps program moves forward

The board signed a memorandum of understanding with Pope County that outlined the two counties responsibilities for a jointly-shared grant application to the Veterans Justice Corps program.

Pope and Stevens Counties will be applying for one half-time "Veterans Advocate" position through AmeriCorp. If the position is approved, the veteran's advocate will work about three six-hour days per week, split between the counties.

Stevens County Veterans Services Officer Hugh Reimers said he already had letters of support for the position from both the Morris and Chokio chapters of the American Legion.

Human services applications to move online

By the end of March, Stevens County residents who apply for income maintenance programs like cash assistance, food support, health care and child care assistance will likely be able to apply online, Human Services Director Joanie Murphy told the board.

Murphy said she anticipates students and other people who are comfortable with technology will start to apply though the new online application, ApplyMN.

"It will be interesting to see how the technology of this works - if it works," said Murphy. Although there have been some bugs in the pilot counties that have been testing the program for several months, Murphy said the program seems to be going well.

Murphy noted that the program does not replace the paper applications and the program will not determine eligibility - "That's still a process that financial workers go through," said Murphy.

Other business

• The board approved hiring a Financial Assistance Supervisor for the Human Services Department, to replace a retiring financial assistance worker. The new position would be responsible for taking on the caseload of the retiring worker as well as supervising the child support program, said Murphy.

• The board approved Human Services claims and warrants for $71,103.

• The board, acting as the County Ditch Authority has scheduled a county ditch informational meeting for Thursday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Morris Armory. Topics on the agenda include a discussion of issues raised by a ditch working group, a review of Minnesota drainage law, an overview of a drainage policy and a recommendation of the drainage committee and workgroup.