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You might be surprised how many people in Becker County are just a lost job or a blown transmission or a medical emergency away from homelessness. Hoping to catch them before they fall is Marcia Otte, family development director at Mahube-Otwa. She and her staff use a wide network, built up over 30 years, of contacts in local government, churches, housing, and the community to give crucial housing support to people who just don't get it from family, friends or anywhere else.
The Becker County Museum will soon also become a science and children's museum. "We are one of a half-dozen museums around the state wondering how to get more people in the door," Executive Director Becky Mitchell told the County Board Tuesday. "One way to do that is to add science as well as history—we were also advised that if we are going to add disciples, to add the word 'children.'" Grant funding is easier to achieve if children are among the beneficiaries, she said.
If you were standing near the front of the pool for the Detroit Mountain pond skim Saturday, you needed to be ready to get splashed, or even drenched, depending on how spectacular the wipeout.
Good news for highway construction efforts in Minnesota: The Legislature has approved emergency funds to fill up its empty wetland bank. Minnesota law requires wetlands destroyed in road construction projects to be replaced elsewhere. This is accomplished through a "wetland bank" or wetlands that have been restored or purchased to serve as replacement acreage when needed. Becker County is rich in banked wetland credits, having about 27 acres.
After a rough start, the Perham Resource Recovery Facility, once known as the Perham incinerator, is getting onto solid financial ground. Last April, Becker County had to kick in an unexpected, unbudgeted $200,000, it's share of an incinerator bond payment that the joint powers facility was too broke to make on its own. The "dirty mixed-waste processing facility" takes in truckloads of raw garbage from Becker, Otter Tail, Clay, Todd and Wadena counties and runs it through a system of conveyor belts and centrifugal force cylinders.
Health insurance looks to get a lot more expensive in this part of the state— especially if you're older and lower income—under a U.S. House bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare. On average, those in Becker County who qualify for subsidies would see a 27 percent drop by 2020—from an average of $4,100 under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to an average of $3,000 under the House plan.
Becker County has to keep an eye on what's going on in its courthouse, but it needs new glasses. The county hopes to land a $45,623 state grant to improve courthouse security by replacing old surveillance cameras and adding additional ones. If the county lands the grant, it will match it with an identical sum, covering the total project cost of just over $91,000. The project would have to be completed by the end of next year.
A local nursing home administrator is very concerned about a game-changing Republican plan to quit fully funding Medicaid. The plan would cap federal spending on Medicaid and force states, nursing homes, hospitals and others to make up the difference, which would grow over time. "What a huge impact this could have, even here in Detroit Lakes," said Janet Green, regional director of Ecumen, which owns Emmanuel Nursing Home in Detroit Lakes and manages Sunnnyside Care Center near Lake Park for Becker County.
If all goes well, Becker County will soon be the proud owner of a new 20-passenger transit bus, five new Armer radios for its transit system, and expanded service routes three times a week to Lake Park and Audubon. The county has applied for a $210,500 state grant for a service expansion pilot program for 2017 and 2018. The program, which includes $78,000 for the new class 400 bus, would be fully funded by the state for two years, and the county would get to keep the bus even if the program ends at that point, Transit Director Chris Damlo told the Becker County Board Tuesday.
A controversial North Shore Drive extension, from City Park to Zorbaz, which would create a new street through an established neighborhood a half-block away from the Detroit Lakes City Beach, has been taken off the table by city officials, and will no longer be eligible for funding under a proposed half-cent city sales tax.