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December 7th, 2020 News

“Our Gratitude to Dale”

By Joanne Bergman

The Murray County Medical Center Board met on November 25th in the regular monthly session. Luke Schryvers was in attendance to observe the meeting as he has other medical center meetings as part of his transition to the role of CEO on December 2nd. 

Approval was given to a three year contract with CLA to provide audit services. This followed a lengthy discussion. Board and staff both felt that a change in auditors should be considered to have “new eyes” looking at MCMC finances. However, the amount of work due to Covid related activities has put extra pressure on the office staff. A new auditor would create an additional workload during the upcoming year. For those reasons, CLA was awarded the contract. 

Patient numbers were strong for the month of October matching or exceeding those of last year. The hospital has handled several Covid cases recently with staff quickly adapting to the protective measures. Some of the Covid patients, according to Dr. Snow, have been able to discharge to home continuing on oxygen therapy. The census numbers were reflected in the financial reports with a positive income of $71,878 for the month. Year to date shows a positive income of slightly over One Million Dollars; a sharp contrast with the loss of $646,000 the previous year to date. 

A list of capital expenses was presented to the board for approval. The rooftop HVAC system will be replaced in the laboratory at a cost of $35,000. Three humidifiers installed in 2005 are obsolete with parts difficult to find and will be replaced in surgery at a cost of nearly $24,000. A freezer for storage of the Covid vaccine has been ordered with a delivery date of March 2021 at a cost of $9700. An upgrade for technology will cost $8900. Finally, flooring will be replaced in the laboratory and at the nurses’ station.  

Covid vaccine will be delivered in mid December with medical center employees to be the recipients. With questions of safety, length of immunity and the possibility of herd immunity, the staff will not be mandated to receive the vaccine. If the numbers responding positively to receiving the vaccine is low, the vaccine will be offered to other facilities. 

Board chair Lenore Wendorff  led the group in expressing thanks to Dale Gillogly for his efforts as Interim CEO over the past months. Coming to MCMC at a difficult time and also as a Sanford employee  the Board was initially hesitant to accept Dale in his new role. The Board and staff members all commented on the amazing job he accomplished and the extra hours he worked. There was a definite change in attitude of the staff. Our gratitude to Dale for all of this was the overall expression.  

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Murray County Commissioner Meet

By Joanne Bergman

The Murray County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Deputy Sheriff Heath Landsman was on hand to request the purchase of three new squad cars with 2021 budget monies. He presented information on  2021 Chevrolet Silverado crew cab units at a cost of $28,365.50 per vehicle. The maintenance costs along with the installation of new cameras in the old vehicles. Those cameras would at a later date need to installed in the new vehicles. For those reasons Landsman wants to move forward with the purchase at this time rather than delaying the purchase. The Commissioners, concerned with possible cuts in LGA and other State budget cuts, expressed a willingness to proceed with the purchase of two vehicles putting the third on hold until Murray County’s new budget is approved. 

Landsman also requested the replacement of duty pistols at a cost of $4,151.50. The new pistols will be 9MM Glocks which are deemed more accurate than those currently being used. Officers will be given the option of purchasing their current firearm as a personal weapon. The firearms dealer will handle licensing of the new weapons. 

Approval was given to set a public hearing December 15, at 10:00 for discussion of the 2021 drainage system levies. Each of the ditch systems needs to maintain the funds necessary for repairs. Those funds are paid as an assessment by each of the landowners assigned benefits for use of the ditch. 

Ditch Inspector Travis Radke presented four petitions for repairs. CD#67 has blowouts between Highway 59 and Beaver Creek. JD#20A had to have two beavers removed. CD#74 has a plugged tile line. JD#13 was found to have a tile off grade. 

Additional testing will be done with cell phones using the FirstNet system. Sheriff deputies will use the phones across all areas of the county to determine any “dead” spots without service. 

With regrets, the Commissioners accepted the resignation of Deputy Assessor Jean Nelson. She will be assuming the position of Assessor in Lincoln County. Recruitment will begin for an Assessor Technician, the starting point in the office. A second round of interviews will be arranged from a recent list of applicants. Jon Visker will be hired immediately after completion of test results for the Temporary Assessor Intern position. He will be limited to 1000 hrs or until completion of his task. 

Jakob Etrheim asked for and was given a letter of support for the Casey Jones State Trail. The letter will be used in seeking future grants or legislative support. 

Carl Nyquist announced the successful application for a Nobles Cooperative Round Up Grant in the amount of $500. The monies will be used to purchase a printer for ID badges. 

A Memorandum of Understanding was approved with the Murray County Crypt Association. The crypt located in St. Ann’s Cemetery will be used in the event of a catastrophic public health event, such as a COVID surge requiring the storage of bodies. The crypt will hold 71 bodies. There is a $1200 per month fee while it is in use, a fee that will be covered by FEMA funding. The MOU was passed with “Hope we don’t need it” being echoed by the Commissioners. 

A third round of CARES grants are under consideration with the final decisions to be made on Monday, November 30th. Businesses will be given first consideration with any remaining funds to be allocated to the schools. Purchase of saliva testing kits will also be discussed at that meeting. 

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Commissioners Schedule A Busy Day

By Joanne Bergman

The regular meeting of the Murray County Board of Commissioners was held on the first day of December. Meetings are scheduled to begin at 8:30 on the first, third and fourth Tuesday of each month. 

Commissioner warrants in the total amount of $83,612.70 were approved for payment. Of that amount $68,960.56 was for payment of road and bridge expenses for the current year. 

The Pay Application 4 of the HVAC project was approved for payment in the amount of $337,098 to the contractor Bisbee Plumbing and Heating. The total contracted cost of the updates is $1,203,307.71. 

Ditch Inspector Travis Radke reported no response from the State of Minnesota in regard to repairs to CD11 under Highway 30. He will continue to reach out. Two landowners with claims for damages during the repair work did respond. One with a claim of $1230 requested payment at this time. Another with a claim of $744 asked to have payment deferred. 

Highway Engineer Randy Groves presented his departments Five Year Plan for approval by the Commissioners. Larger projects have been moved into the future by one year to allow enough funds to begin construction of a new building to house the Highway Department. State Aid funds will be used for the financing of the construction. Groves is anticipating the turnover of Highway 267 from Highway 30 to the center of Iona will take place soon. The State of Minnesota will provide the $7-8 Million needed to upgrade the road. Three replacement bridges and purchase of land for easements figure into the costs. 

Jakob Etrheim presented a Letter of Support for the Casey Jones State Trail. The letter will remain on file for use in grant applications. Commissioner Thiner asked the addition of language to support resurfacing of the section north of Currie to maintain the condition of the trail. The Casey Jones State Trail was established in 1967 and consists of two sections, one east of Lake Wilson and another north of Currie. An additional item of business in regard to the trail was the approval of an agreement that continues mowing of the Lake Wilson section by Murray County. 

Thomas Burke reported there has been a sharp increase in Covid cases in Murray County. He is working with the Murray County Medical Center on a public awareness campaign urging the use of masks, social distancing and hand washing to curb the spread of the virus. 

The CARES fund has been depleted with approval of the final round of applications for funds. All but the last $70-80 will be awarded to the schools and for the purchase of saliva testing kits. County employees Samantha McClellan and Mary Ellen Moline were praised for outstanding efforts in gathering the necessary information and collating the finances for the CARES committee. Over One Million Dollars were awarded through the process. 

The Commissioners recessed this meeting to reconvene in the 4H building. Union negotiations were to then take place for three unions: Highway, Dispatch/Jailer and Jail Administrator. 

At 6:00 p.m. the Commissioners will once again reconvene in the Commissioners Room for the 2021 Truth in Taxation Hearing. To be discussed will be a 3.15% tax increase that will raise an additional $247,161 for a total budget of $8,085,406. The Board has been meeting with department heads over the past weeks to determine the needs of each department for personnel and equipment purchases. 

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