March 14, 2019 at 2:46 p.m.

HHS director at her final County Board session

HHS director at her final County Board session
HHS director at her final County Board session

Health & Human Services Director Nancy Dahlin was on the County Board agenda last week for the final time in her 30-year career of working in public health and social welfare programming. Dahlin lives outside of Rush City,  on part of a farmstead that’s been in her family since 1902.  She  gave an emotional final monthly wrap-up.

Commissioner Ben Montzka summed-up the moment, commending Dahlin for her insistence the myriad of social service laws and regulations were applied in a fair and consistent manner, adding,  “I never had reason to worry about anything you did.”

Health & Human Services and the Road & Bridge division are easily the two largest chunks of the county budget. Dahlin stepped up in 2011 to lead staff who were in flux organizationally and  who had been rather direction-less for years, as multiple prior county HHS leaders held relatively brief tenure.  

Dahlin mentioned the state health improvement partnership (SHIP) needs to be supported by county leaders as a positive force, saying it has provided grants of $500,000 for equipment and healthful lifestyle education to local schools and other groups.  

She also said the county staff administer $37 million in Chisago County resident Medicaid alone, and that any measures affecting federal HHS appropriations will have an impact and need to be monitored.

Dahlin reminisced a bit about how decades ago a child in need of protection was one whose parents found a pack of smokes and felt the kid was a delinquent.  Now, she said, young children need to be removed from very intense household situations.  She highlighted continuing to be creative in addressing out of home placement and thanked the foster home program participants for their important role.

Dahlin got a laugh when she told how a career in social services meant keeping odd hours and having hushed conversations and taking phone calls at 2 a.m. Or the family might be at a community event and all the deputies knew Dahlin and waved.  One night her young daughter at the supper table asked very earnestly,  if mom worked for the FBI.

Dahlin’s director post is being advertised and the County Board will rely on a cooperative effort by various supervisors until a new director is named.

 In other matters at last week’s Board meeting:  the commissioners gave the green light for staff to hire  a contractor to remove and replace a collapsed sewer line servicing the facilities in the three-level 1989 courthouse addition.  The waste line has been a chronic problem. and it was reported an estimate for the work to replace the under-the-floor bad pipe is $15,000.

~ An abatement for Fox Valley Metrology, of Stacy,  was adopted 5-0 after a public hearing.

County taxes of $7,000 annually for no more than nine years and city taxes of $4,000 annually,  go into paying off the costs of acquiring land in Stacy Business Park to expand by over 7,000 square feet, and bringing in broadband Internet.  Job creation, wages and other conditions like value of the project construction, are being met, the Board was advised.

Fox Metrology is 20 years old and provides sales, calibration and service for precision measuring.

~ The upcoming retirements of two longtime employees:  County Parks Director Laird Mork and Tara Guy, planning and zoning, were announced.

~ The planning commission site visits were approved as eligible for regular $50 per diem.

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