Isanti County to hire social worker

A county social worker will be hired this summer to reduce the case load for the existing workforce.

The Isanti County Board of Commissioners agreed at the regular meeting May 16 to add a new position and hire a full-time child protection worker.

Sandy Voight, on behalf of the Initiative Foundation Board of Trustees and staff, presented a plaque of appreciation to the Isanti County Board of Commissioners for the county’s investments over the past five years. “Today, as in the past, the Foundation remains steadfastly committed to economic growth and recovery (in central Minnesota),” Voight said. “Together we invest in locally owned businesses, secure quality jobs, partner with governments and nonprofits, support children and families, advance local philanthropy and engage people from all walks of life in achieving a brighter future.” Pictured, from left, are Isanti County Administrator Kevin VanHooser, Commissioners Mike Warring, Larry Southerland, George Larson, Susan Morris, Alan Duff and Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad. Photos by Elizabeth Sias

Family Services Director Penny Messer said filling the position will make the high number of cases more manageable.

“We certainly feel that children and families will be better served with an increase in staff to deal with a high volume of cases,” she said. “And we will be better equipped to assess safety and ensure the safety of children.”

Some Commissioners had concerns regarding how the position will be financed. Messer explained the department could access federal dollars in specific situations when families are eligible to bring in revenue to offset what’s expended from the county’s budget.

County Attorney Jeff Edblad supported hiring another social worker, saying it’s important to have enough staff on hand to allow for the time they spend testifying in trials.

“There’s a significant amount of court time and testifying time, so the people that you’ve already got on staff, when the trials are taking place, we will have probably two child protection workers off the line, not able to go out, not able to do investigations, because they’re tied up with regard to the testimony as it relates to the involvement in the case,” Edblad said. “From the standpoint of the observation of stretched resources, I wanted to make you aware of that.”

He said there have been a number of trials terminated lately  because it takes time for child protection workers to prepare for trails, testifying at trials and being available to testify as rebuttal.

“It finishes the case. You can’t have a successful case without their ability to provide testimony,” Edblad said. “To prove the cases and the allegations, we need your workers to be available to spend their days in court testifying on these multi-day long trials, which takes them out of circulation. What I appreciate is the fact that the folks that you’ve got in this area are so thorough, so professional, they testify very well, they present themselves very well to the court, and there’s that degree of continuity when you’ve got your own in-house people doing that.”

Commissioner Susan Morris said she supported filling the position and urged other Commissioners to agree.

“I implore you, Commissioners, to support this now,” she said. “We have got to protect the children.”

The resolution to hire a new social worker for the child protection unit of Isanti County Family Services passed unanimously.

Farm Family of the Year named

Isanti County Extension presented David and Donna Whitney, Jacob Whitney and Amy Whitney with the award of 2012 Isanti County Farm Family of the Year.

Gary Skarsten from the Isanti County Extension Committee was on hand to name the Whitney family the 2012 Isanti County Farm Family of the Year. Front row, from left, Ken Schroepfer, Ron Schleif, David Whitney, Donna Whitney, McKenzie Whitney and Jacob Whitney. Pictured in back are Commissioners Mike Warring, Larry Southerland, George Larson, Susan Morris and Alan Duff. Photos by Elizabeth Sias

The family is the owner of Dew Fresh Produce, which grows sweet corn, squash, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and other vegetables. It also grows field corn and hay for the cow herd found on the 140 acre farm.

David specializes in strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, all of which are for sale. During berry-picking season, the public can call 763-689-2282 for information on picking times.

Jacob specializes in his 1,200 apple trees, producing SweeTango, Honeycrisp, SnowSweet, Zestar, Harlson, Frostbite and Honeygold apples, which are for sale in the fall.

In other action, the board:

• Awarded the bid to Knife River Corp. for $1.1 million for a 1.7-mile road project on Co. Rd. 45 and awarded the bid to Dresel Contracting for $3.4 million for a 4.9-mile road project on Co. Rd. 9, contingent on state approval of a $400,000 grant.

• Awarded the bid for dust coating services to apply chloride to county gravel roads to Envirotech Services at 79 cents per gallon for approximately 50,000 gallons.

• Approved annual liquor license renewals for Outback Saloon & Grill, Hi-Way Inn of 95, Jumpin Jacks and EC’s Wine & Spirits.