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David Paulsen hired on part-time basis to coordinate part of Kandiyohi County, Minn., restructuring process

WILLMAR — Kandiyohi County has hired David Paulsen to coordinate part of the county’s restructuring process.

Paulsen, who will work on a part-time basis over the next nine to 12 months, will manage committees comprised of county department heads and other staff who have been assigned to hammer out the details for implementing a new internal structure that will blur the lines between the family ser-vices, public health, community corrections and veteran service offices — the part of the overall redesign plan referred to as Phase 2.

By working together to share duties across department lines, the goal is to increase efficiency of the staff and improve services to the public.

Paulsen was introduced to the Kandiyohi County Commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday.

During a brief interview afterward, Paulsen said the county’s restructuring plan has a “very ambitious scope and great timeline” to accomplish positive changes.

Given the work that needs to be done in the next year, Paulsen said the players will need to keep a fast pace.

His job is to manage the four existing committees that have been assigned different tasks associated with the transition.

“You have a great opportunity here where you have experienced staff with an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise,” said Paulsen. “My job is to help facilitate and keep the project moving forward.”

While the county is beginning to define changes for the implementation of Phase 2 that involves departments housed in the Health and Human Services building on the north side of Willmar, the county is also making progress on Phase 1, which includes redesigning space in the county’s downtown office building and cross-training employees in the auditor/treasurer, recorder, license bureau and environmental service departments.

Paulsen has degrees in political science and public administration. He spent seven years as the city manager in the Philadelphia area and the past six years as a municipal consultant specializing in small group facilitation and project administration.

He and his wife, Charlene Stevens, who is the Willmar city administrator, moved to the area 18 months ago.

“I’m really excited to be joining the Kandiyohi County team,” said Paulsen.

Commissioner Jim Butterfield said that Paulsen’s credentials confirmed that he is the right person for the job.

Also Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners heard about an alternative route for a section of a proposed Eagle Lake bike trail and approved a grant application seeking funds to build it. The new proposed southern trail route would use a section of existing trail the city of Willmar built that skirts the western edge of the Willmar Senior High School property. The proposed trail then would continue north from the school property and end at the Eagle Lake public access on the southeast side of the lake.

County Public Works Director Gary Danielson said he was not aware of that city trail when his crews designed a different route along County Road 9.

During a recent meeting with the city and school, it was suggested that the route be changed to make the existing city trail a link in the Eagle Lake trail.

Danielson said the route along the school property, which borders outdoor ball and recreation fields, is prettier than the one the county had originally proposed, but it won’t reduce the overall cost of that leg of the project, which is estimated at $200,000.

The county agreed to seek a $150,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources that would be paired with $50,000 in local funding. He said that part of the project will not proceed if the grant is not approved.

The county received a $105,000 DNR grant this year to construct a northern leg of the bike trail. That section begins at the northeast part of Eagle Lake and skirts the east side of the lake along County Road 9.

In other action:

- The commissioners approved a resolution supporting a state grant application for Heartland Community Action Agency to provide programs to prevent families from becoming homeless and to eliminate repeated episodes of homelessness in the four-county area. Two years ago the program received a grant of $360,000. Because of increased needs, the grant application for this biennium is being increased by 20 percent.

It’s estimated there are 200 families in the four-county area that are facing imminent homelessness, according to Debi Brandt, community services director for Heartland.

The grants are awarded by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

- The commissioners approved a state water safety grant agreement for $16,519 that will help fund pay for deputies patrolling lakes during summer months. The grant is about $1,400 higher than last year’s allocation, according to Sheriff Dan Hartog.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750