By Terry Bailey

The Mitchell County Commissioners conducted their regular weekly meeting at the Courthouse, Monday morning, May 13. Commissioners Tom Claussen and Jim Marshall were present. Commissioner Mike Cooper was absent. Also in attendance was County Clerk Heather Weston and citizens Valerie Walter and Valerie Straithman.
Keagen Bailey from the Regional Planning Commission and Economic Director Emily Benedict were in attendance to discuss the AARPA grant program. They told the Commissioners that all AARPA funds must be allocated by December 31, 2024. They are not required to spend the money by that time, but the funds must be specifically allocated by the end of the year. The group discussed various needs for which the money could be allocated. Final decisions regarding the money will be forthcoming in the near future.
Barb Wise and Kathy Webster were present representing Pawnee Mental Health. They told the Commissioners that for the first time in 18 years, Robin Cole was not at the helm of Pawnee Mental Health. Her years of expertise will be missed but they assured the Commissions that the new director, Michael Rezkalla, is well qualified to replace Cole. Rezelka comes to Pawnee Mental Health from Boston, Massachusetts. They also told the Commissioners that "same day access" is a high priority for Pawnee. This is aimed at replacing the "take a number and wait" process of being served. Additionally they reminded the Commissioners that in any given calendar year, one in every five Americans will experience mental health distress.
They asked the Commissioners to declare the Month of May Mental Health Awareness Month entitling it "Be Kind To Your Mind" month.
A cereal malt beverage license was approved for James Daverman representing the Nebraska Bush Pull, a tractor pulling organization. The organization will sponsor an event on May 30 through June 1 at 351 Jasmine Trail. The license is for sales in original containers.
The Commissioners received notification that TRILEAF, an environment architecture engineering firm, will be constructing a 450-foot tower at 1746 320 Road.
The Commissioners discussed making official the suggested practice of holding open vacant positions as a cost saving measure.
Commissioner Jim Marshall said, "When a person is paid a wage of $40,000 there are associated costs due to Health Insurance, KPERS, and other expenses relating to that job in the amount of another $40,000. In other words, a $40,000 job will cost the County $80,000."
Commissioner Tom Claussen said, "It would seem appropriate for the Commissioners to issue an interdepartmental memo stating that all hiring will not be done without the express approval of the County Commissioners."
Dawn Snyder, representing the 12th Judicial District Department of Corrections, was present to discuss grant applications. Snyder has replaced Rhonda Backstrom as the executive director. In the past few years, the grant applications for the upcoming year have been the same amount as the current year. Snyder told the Commissioners that the grant applications for 2025 are for the same amount as those in 2024. The Commissioner expressed their belief that this was good news.
Having addressed all the items on the printed agenda, the meeting was adjourned.


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