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Becker County hires new environmental services director

Becker County has a new environmental services director with more than 30 years experience in the field.

Marin Wiley has decades of experience as a DNR forester, including 12 years of forestry management experience. He is also a member of several hunting and environmental organizations, said Becker County Auditor-Treasurer Ryan Tangen, who introduced him to those in the Becker County Board room Tuesday.

Tangen has been handling timber sales and forest management issues for the county since Chip Lohmeier left in December of 2010 to take the land manager job in Hubbard County.

In other action, the board:

• Agreed to sponsor a highway grant application for work associated with Highway 10 access and the new LP-A high school in Lake Park.

The work is expected to cost $700,000 to $800,000 and the county is applying for the maximum grant amount of $500,000, said County Highway Engineer Brad Wentz.

"We'll be asking for as much as we can get," he said, warning that it is a very competitive grant process with only $10 million available statewide.

• Accepted a $27,000 Legacy Program grant for 40 miles of North Country Trail through the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.

• Agreed to extend hours of operation at the Department of Motor Vehicles at the courthouse. The DMV will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

It is currently open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Commissioners hope that more customer-friendly hours will encourage more business at the DMV, which generates about $50,000 a year for the county in foot traffic.

The county earns nothing from license plate tabs obtained through the mail, said Commissioner Barry Nelson.

A staff vacancy at the DMV has now been filled.

• Reviewed a draft of the Becker County Parks and Recreation Ordinance. Board Chairman Larry Knutson said he read the ordinance and has several concerns. He urged the other commissioners to thoroughly review it and discuss it at a natural resources management committee meeting Thursday morning.

"The big issues from the start have been the practicality of it and the enforcement," said Tangen, adding that the county attorney's office and sheriff's department were heavily involved in writing the proposed ordinance and "have put a lot of time into this."

"The crux of the draft ordinance is based on Minnesota statutes and what a reasonable and prudent person would know is illegal," Sheriff Tim Gordon said.

"We spent several months dissecting this and getting different perspectives from different people in county (government) and people concerned with county lands," he added. "It's the starting point for a document and ordinance that is enforceable."