Wright County approves upgrading courthouse camera security

By John Holler

One of the unfortunate byproducts of living in a violent society is that the need for increased security is heightened. Anyone entering the Wright County courthouse learns that lesson when they walk through metal detectors at the entrances. We live in a time where security measures are needed and when deficiencies are found, they need to be addressed.

At the Oct. 30 meeting of the Wright County Board, the commissioners approved $44,500 to upgrade the county’s security camera system. County Coordinator Dick Norman said that the need is there, both for modernizing the system as well as getting more complete coverage.

“Many of the cameras we have now are 12 years old and are in need of upgrading,” Norman said. “Technology has made a lot of advancements in that time and we need to cycle out the older cameras in the system. We’re also looking to increase coverage so we don’t have blind spots, which we currently have.”

Norman said that some of the corridors and the common area in the first floor lobby are some of the examples of blind spots in the system. He noted that recently a resident became agitated at the license bureau and, after being confronted by a sheriff’s department deputy, had to be taken down and arrested, but that the two went out of camera range as the confrontation took place down the hall from the license bureau and weren’t able to be captured on camera.

The county has an extensive system of security cameras, including systems in the Human Services Center, the public works building, the county jail and the courthouse. Norman said the county has approximately $50,000 remaining in the site improvement line item of the 2012 budget and that this would be an ideal use for those funds.

“The top priority is the safety of the public and to our employees,” Norman said. “This upgrade to the system will make it easier to monitor the activity in the courthouse and increase the area covered by the security cameras. Whatever we can do to increase security to our citizens is something we need to address and take seriously.”

In other items on the Oct. 30 agenda, the board:

APPROVED a request to update lighting area of the county courthouse. The total project cost is approximately $10,000 and will be funded through the building care and maintenance budget.

AUTHORIZED repairs to the plumbing system in the Human Services Center. When the building was purchased in 1996, additional bathrooms were installed using residential quality fixtures that weren’t intended to get the kind of volume use that a public building gets and some of the systems are beginning to run inefficiently. The cost of the upgrade is expected to be $9,200.

APPROVED adding an outside phone line for the jail division receptionist at the Law Enforcement Center. The receptionist works between two desks and can’t always get to the phone when dealing with the public. The additional phone line will allow the receptionist to take calls from either work area.

AUTHORIZED signatures of a Natural Recourses Block Grant in the amount of $104,169. The grant funds are earmarks for water management, wetland conservation, shoreland management and the monitoring of feedlots.

BY a 3-2 vote, approved setting the job classification of the new human resources director at Class E on the non-union salary schedule. Commissioners Rose Thelen and Pat Sawatzke voted against the matter. Both have been opposed to the creation of the new position, which will have a starting salary in between $71,000 and $93,000 a year.

NAMED Dick Norman as the county’s voting delegate at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust Dec. 3 in St. Cloud. Commissioner Jack Russek was named as the voting alternate.

AGREED to administer a $36,200 grant for the Wright County Snowmobile Association for the replacement of the Locke Lake Trail Bridge. In order for the association to receiver grant funding the county needs to serve as the fiscal agent for the disbursement of grant funds.

CONVEYED tax-forfeit land parcels to the cities of Delano, Montrose and Otsego for use in community designated projects. Under state law, when properties go through tax forfeiture, cities and townships can request that the properties be turned over to them if the use of the land will be for the public good.

RECEIVED an update on activity along County Ditch 38 underneath the Montrose Trailer Park. There have been several issues with water flow in the ditch and the board approved repairs to the existing inlet to the ditch where it meets up with the trailer park as well as a determination of benefited land owners in the event more sweeping repairs are needed.

APPROVED a 2013 contract with Mary Ann Peterson for the county’s Parenting Through Divorce program at a total of $5,000.

APPROVED a 2013 contract with agricultural inspector Ken Johnson in the amount of $13,281.

SCHEDULED a committee of the whole meeting to discuss the salaries of elected department heads for 10:30 a.m. following the Nov. 20 board meeting.