3/27/2014 2:58:00 PM County commissioners let go of agreement with Riverwood; hears about capital projects
by DENISE MARTIN
Chisago County has been contracting for mental health services for decades from a non-profit provider with offices in Braham. The Five County Mental Health group then became four county when Kanabec County withdrew, and recently just three counties were supporting the program, with Mille Lacs pulling out. Chisago County liaison Commissioner Rick Greene said the non-profit organization was still hopeful it could operate late into 2013; but financial issues have caused the non-profit, known as Riverwood, to announce it is closing. Greene said “...there was a financial hole that could not be filled, without bringing service costs way out of line.” Commissioner Greene will continue to represent Chisago County at mental health services meetings until bankruptcy filing is complete, he reported at last week’s County Board meeting.
“Riverwood” was a place where publicly-funded mental health services were provided for low income clients referred there by county human services staff, Greene said. Staff are working with other mental health care providers to fill the gap now. Counties are also required by law to have a “crisis” mental health hotline available and this service has not been disrupted. Funding came mainly by way of federal and state aid. Chisago County contributions were tied to the rate of usage by residents. The County Board voted 5-0 last week to terminate the contract with Riverwood. The county’s Health and Human Services Department director should have a more detailed report on client alternatives and mental health services at the next County Board session. Commissioner Lora Walker noted the county’s HHS director is recommending the county move on and Greene is also supporting this, and she said she was comfortable with those assurances.
Bridge data obsolete In the county engineer’s report the commissioners were told that a March 8 StarTribune story reporting that Chisago County was ranked sixth of 87 counties for poor bridge conditions, was not up-to-date. The county has replaced or improved eight bridges since the statistics used in that article were put together. The article focused on “structurally deficient ratings” counties are required to submit to the state. The county commissioners were also advised to remember that “deficient” is calculated on a scale and doesn’t mean any span is on the verge of falling down. County Engineer Joe Triplett said the condition of county bridges is a priority of his. In fact, bids for the CSAH 9 and CSAH 11 (Kost Trail) bridges will be awarded by the Board April 2, he added. Work zones are scheduled to be set-up in June, depending on DNR input and restrictions on working near stream-based habitat. (See projects map.) The commissioners also supported implementation of the capital improvement plan for the government center.
The work includes a new roof, new boilers and portions of new facade, along with new windows and a replacement chiller already okayed at the Government Center. There are two main sections of the government center, one done in 1973 and an addition in 1989 and both need work. The commissioners accepted the engineering analysis reports, authorized going out for bids and TKDA was assigned as project manager. TKDA engineering and architectural consultants explained various options and staging possibilities. After hearing about the energy savings, equipment rebates, efficiencies in one-time worker mobilization and being told the project costs can be accomodated, the Board ordered the full list of capital improvements to be done. Commissioner George McMahon remarked that investment monies right now aren’t really earning the county any interest income and taxpayers will get a better bang for the buck by applying the funds to these deferred projects. Expect to see a lot of equipment and trades activity at the Center City courthouse site this summer.