Wright County honors employees at recognition ceremony

By John Holler

Contributing Writer

While the county commissioners, county attorney and sheriff are the names and faces most people associate with Wright County, there are hundreds of other employees who complete the day-to-day operations of running the county. At the March 4 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, the board held its annual Employee Awards Recognition Ceremony.

The annual ceremony gives the county board an opportunity to honor their employees for achievement and years of service. The 2013 individual achievement award was presented to Assistant County Attorney Terry Frazier. The board also paid tribute to more than 100 employees who have reached five-year increments of service to county residents. There were 47 employees who hit the five-year anniversary mark, 17 at 10 years, 20 at 15 years, 14 at 20 years, nine at 25 years and three each at 30 and 35 years of service – Sheri Jorgenson (Human Services), Craig Schultz (Planning & Zoning) and Bill Swing (Information Technology) sy yhr the 30-year level and Barb Gabrelcik (Recorder), Bruce Leinonen (Highway) and August Riebel (Parks) at the 35-year milestone.

In addition to county mugs honoring their years of service imprinted on them, the employees were given department store gift cards as a way of saying thanks – a small token for the hard work the employees perform in their respective departments.

It’s a chance for all of us to say thank you to the employees who do the work that keeps the county running,” Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said. “They have committed themselves to public service and don’t often get the recognition that they deserve for the vital roles they serve in county government.”

In other items on the March 4 agenda, the board:

RECEIVED an update from Parks Administrator Marc Mattice concerning a pilot project running through his department for the county’s integration into accepting credit cards on-line. Prior to this year, making reservations for spaces at county campground sites for the coming season had to be done by phone. With only two staff members manning the phones during the initial reservation period, it was often a chaotic scene, especially for those looking to book reservations for the high-use holiday weekends. The Parks Department was the first county department to attempt on-line payment. The campground reservation program went live on-line at 8 a.m. Monday, March 3. By 1 p.m. that same day, the county had accepted 528 transactions using the new system, bringing in approximately $40,000 in revenue.

SET a special committee of the whole meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 27. The purpose of the meeting is to invite all county mayors and city council members to the county board room to discuss the current status of the River Rider program. As things currently stand, the longstanding program, which provides inexpensive transportation for those without vehicles, will end June 30. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has told the county that it was absorbed into an existing program based in Litchfield, but the commissioners want the gauge the level of interest, usage and concerns from city officials to see if pursuing the option of trying to run the program on their own is viable.

PRESENTED a retirement plaque to Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Keith Schuft after 35 years of volunteering with the sheriff’s department. He joined the department in 1979 and was hired by longtime Sheriff Darrell Wolff among the first of the reserve officers when Wolff initiated the program. Since then, he has donated between 800 and 1,000 hours a year to the citizens of Wright County at various events, many of which take place on weekends when most are enjoying what precious free time they have. Sheriff Joe Hagerty said that Schuft exemplifies the qualities his department looks for in reservce officers.

SCHEDULED a Budget Committee of the Whole meeting at the request of Commissioner Charlie Borrell. During the first budget process for four of the current commissioners last summer, Borrell noticed that the county makes donations to support specific groups and organizations. He asked that the list of these various donations be discussed at the committee level. The meeting was scheduled for immediately following the April 15 board meeting.

WAS introduced to Sue Vergin, who began work at the assistant county coordinator March 3.

AUTHORIZED board attendance at the State of the Cities event, a cooperative event scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, March 13 at Delano City Hall. The meeting will include presentations from the cities of Albertville, Buffalo, Delano, Montrose, Otsego and St. Michael.

REFERRED discussion of staffing in the administration department to the personnel committee.

APPROVED a charitable gambling license for the Church of St. Mary of Czestochowa in Delano.