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Commissioners outline process to appoint sheriff

MORRIS - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners made plans to move forward to appoint a new sheriff, learned about the 2013 county assessments, and authorized the purchase of a new e-mail server at their regular board meeting Tuesday.

Human Resources Director Janet Raguse presented the board with an outline of her timeline for moving forward with the process to interview and appoint a new sheriff following Sheriff Randy Willis' resignation effective Dec. 31, 2012.

Applications for the position are due on Monday, Nov. 26. First, a committee made up of Raguse, County Attorney Aaron Jordan, and Commissioners Ron Staples and Phil Gausman will score the applications to determine which applicants will be interviewed.

Final interviews with the top three our four candidates will be completed by all five commissioners Raguse, Jordan, County Coordinator Brian Giese and a guest sheriff. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10.

During the discussion, Staples suggested that the process for hiring a new sheriff be delayed until after the two newly-elected commissioners - Bob Kopitzke and Donny Wohlers - take office.

"Since we have two new board members coming on, maybe this process should be delayed until they have some input into this decision of who we're going to hire," said Staples. "The new board members are the ones that are going to be working with the new sheriff."

Jordan said that he thought it would be good to invite Wohlers and Kopitzke to participate in the process and offer their opinions.

"Often times with these, after you've done the interviews, no matter how many people are there, a lot of times there is consensus with everyone and if there is consensus now perhaps we can more forward with it," said Jordan. "If there isn't consensus, then maybe it is something that could be delayed until January."

Preliminary 2013 assessments presented

The average overall increase on 2013 (payable 2014) assessments for agricultural land will be 20 percent, Stevens County Assessor Judy Thorstad to the board Tuesday.

The other major increase will be on tillable land, which will go up 22 percent. These numbers are still preliminary until they are reviewed by the Department of Revenue, Thorstad said.

The sale period for the assessments was Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012, where there were 20 qualifying sales. Across the county, the average estimated market value per tillable acre is $4,655, and sale prices in the county varied from $3,042 to $7,000.

Other assessments across the county will vary by property type, but will include some equalization adjustments, said Thorstad.

Other business

• The board authorized IT Director Scott Busche to purchase a new e-mail server after the county's six-year-old server had a "catastrophic hardware failure" after six years. Busche told the board that the typical replacement schedule for a server like this one is about five to seven years.

The new server will cost about $17,900 dollars - $5,300 for the hardware, $11,400 for a software update, and $1,200 in taxes.

• The board accepted a community outreach grant of $2,298 from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Service Officer Hugh Reimers said he plans to use the grant money to organize a "stand down" - a community event that will bring services out into the community for veterans who may be reluctant to visit Reimers in his office.

• The board approved warrants for the Human Services department for $96,300.