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Kandiyohi County seeking its share of dwindling SHIP funds

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WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County Public Health is teaming up with seven other west central Minnesota counties to develop a proposal to obtain a share of the state's dwindling funds for a program designed to reduce obesity and smoking.

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At their meeting Tuesday the Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved the partnership.

In the past round of grants two years ago, the Minnesota Department of Health had $40 million to apply to the Statewide Health Improvement Program that was used to implement a variety of community programs throughout the state.

Now there's just $15 million available so spread across the state.

Ann Stehn, director of Kandiyohi County Public Health said it's anticipated the MDH will fund about 15 grants.

In order to enhance opportunities to receive funds, Kandiyohi County created a new partnership with the Redwood/Renville County Public Health Department and the Countryside Public Health, which includes Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties.

The entities are working together to submit one grant proposal, due at the end of the week.

Collaborating on this kind of a grant is new for the Kandiyohi County Public Health Department, Stehn said. "We're often big enough to go on own," she said. But this time there was a definite benefit for all the entities to team up.

Stehn said they would be seeking about $525,000 in grant money.

This round of grants is funded at a high-risk population that includes people living in rural areas and those living in poverty.

Also Tuesday, the commissioners were informed that the Kandiyohi County Reserve Unit is celebrating 50 years of volunteer service.

Sheriff Dan Hartog said the 16-member crew last year provided nearly 1,200 hours of volunteer service assisting law enforcement in activities like the County Fair or the Sonshine Music Festival.

The volunteers earn $15 an hour stipend that's donated back into the unit to purchase uniforms and supplies.

Hartog said this group of people "defines the word volunteer." Hartog presented certificates of appreciation to members of the unit that were at the county board meeting.

The Commissioners thanked the group for their service and said the public isn't aware of all the volunteer work they do for the community.

In other action, the commissioners:

- Reduced the assessment from $19,000 to $1,000 on a piece of tax-forfeited property near Priam in hopes it will be sold and returned to the tax roles. The county paid to remove a nuisance building on the site several years ago. The homeowner didn't pay the bill and forfeited the land. Interested buyers have reportedly been scared away because of the size of the assessment.

- Approved a resolution encouraging the Association of Minnesota Counties to add aquatic invasive species to their legislative platform for more state regulation and enforcement.

- Agreed to hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 1 on a proposed ordinance amendment pertaining to pawn shops operating outside city limits. Part of the amendment includes establishing a fee of $1.10 per transaction to cover costs incurred by law enforcement for crime investigations related to stolen property and consumer protection. It's the same fee charged by the city of Willmar. The county's pawn shop ordinance hasn't been updated since 1986.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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