Wright County honors employees at recognition ceremony

By John Holler

Contributing Writer

Wright County employs hundreds of individuals who devote their work lives to serving the public. Often times, their contribution to county government goes largely unrecognized. But, once a year, the county board of commissioners takes time to honor those employees.

At the meeting of the county board, the commissioners hosted the annual Employee Recognition Ceremony.

The county honored employees for five-year increments of service to the county – from five years to a pair who have worked for the county 40 years – as well as singling out individual and group achievement. This year, a pair of individuals were singled out for their achievements.

Compost Facility Manager Craig Mueller was recognized for his key role in the aftermath of July 5 wind storms that damaged buildings and down trees over a 20-mile path in the county, including the county compost facility. He not only kept he facility open to handle the recycling and household hazardous waste dropoff, but kept the facility running while the building was being repaired and tons of trees and brush came through the facility.

“The amount of recycling we’ve done since 2008 has doubled,” Mueller said. “It’s a wonderful program the county offers. I hope it continues to grow in the future. We’re just touching what we can do with this program. It’s a great program for the community.”

Also honored was Emergency Management Director Steve Berg, who was honored for his coordination of a terrorist drill at the Monticello Nuclear Plant, as well as leadership and improvement of the county’s emergency response protocol. He said he was honored to be recognized his critical role in keeping the county running in the event of disasters, whether natural or man-made.

“I’m very honored by this,” Berg said. “Bur for everything that was said (about my achievements), there are a whole bunch of people who I need to thank. I couldn’t do it without that.”

In the group achievement award, the Information Technology Department was recognized for its role in advancing the county’s technology improvements across department lines.

“It is typically the department that stays in the basement that you don’t think about or hear about unless something is broken or there’s a problem,” IT Director Adam Tagarro said. “I’m very proud of the team that we have here. Whether it’s responding to an outage, fixing a computer, working with departments on projects or helping users with questions and training. We are happy to serve you and your departments. It’s your departments that give IT a purpose and it’s your work that you’re doing day in and day out to serve our citizens that give us meaning in IT.”

The board thanked the employees who attended the ceremony for their unsung work because, if not for them, Wright County wouldn’t have the high standards and level of service needed to make county government operate effectively.

In other items on the agenda, the board:

HEARD a presentation of the annual report of the Great River Regional Library. The GRRL serves Wright, Stearns, Sherburne, Benton, Morrison and Todd counties. Wright County comprises 24 percent of the GRRL cardholders and have public library branches in Annandale, Buffalo, Clearwater, Cokato, Delano, Howard Lake, Monticello, Rockford and St. Michael – nine of the GRRL’s 32 branches. The Wright County libraries accounting for almost 359,000 visitors and 914,000 items checked out in 2016.

ACCEPTED a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. It is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting and only 15 of Minnesota’s 87 counties qualified for the award in 2016.

Approved hiring a temporary employee in the social services department for no more than 67 days during April and May. The need is due to a pair of leaves of absences in the department during that time.

SCHEDULED the annual County Boy-Girl Day for the April 18 board meeting. Every year high school juniors from throughout the county spend a day at the county courthouse learning about how county government works and taking part in presentations from several county department heads.

AUTHORIZED laying off a part-time employee in the Highway Department accounting division. Due to the advanced technology and increased efficiencies, it was determined the position was no longer necessary. The employee was notified Feb. 28, but will be paid wages through March 31 as part of a severance package.

APPROVED transferring of the fee schedule from the license bureau to the recorder’s office due to the transition of vital records which becomes effective March 6. The transfer includes passport photo services, birth, death and marriage certificates and marriage applications.

TABLED discussion of replacing a land records administrator with a business analyst position. The item was tabled to get more information as to whether it would make more sense to have the position centralized in the Information Technology Department or to be decentralized to work with specific departments (Human Resources, Administration, Information Technology and Auditor/Treasurer).

As part of the Feb. 22 ways and means committee, authorized county attorney staff to establish a pilot regional aquatic inspection program in the northwest quadrant of the county and research the potential to create a Lake Improvement District for East and West Lake Sylvia.

SCHEDULED a pair of owners committee meetings — one for 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 6 and the other at 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 14 – to discuss the needs of the new courts building. Among the items to be discussed will be security and sustainability workshops and design for both the interior and exterior design of the lobby, public spaces, offices, judges’ chambers and jury assembly areas.