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Pine County Townships push back over county controlled assessing

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
The threat of the largest one-day November snowfall in nearly two decades did not stop 40 Pine County Township officers, supervisors and assessors from filling the North Pine Government Center, two days before Thanksgiving,
They had received a notice, on Nov. 6, 2019, the Pine County Board of Commissioners would be holding a special meeting on

Nov. 26, 2019, for the purpose of “exploring the implementation of a true county assessing system.”
Pine County Assessor-Recorder Lorri Houtsma said, true county assessing would have to be implemented by Dec. 31, 2019, for the county to begin assessing in October 2020 or they would have to wait another year.
PiCK News reporter asked why townships were not notified earlier of this move since Houtsma and Commissioner Steve Hallan had both spoken October 26, 2019 at the Pine County Township Association meeting, where they gave updates on county news...

Wolves pose threat to economic health of East Central Minnesota

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

USDA Wildlife Biologist and District Supervisor John Hart.

photo by A. Croup for PiCK News

Isaac Schultz, District Director for Congressman Pete Stauber.

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Grey wolves are protected by federal law.
They are responsible for 30 verified attacks on cattle in Pine County in 2019, according to United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Biologist and District Supervisor John Hart.
Hart spoke, Tuesday, at the regular meeting of the Tri-County Cattlemens Association (Pine, Carlton and Chisago County).
Hart said the reason for the attacks, which run in a swath from Kittson County in northwest Minnesota to Pine County, is the overlapping of the habitat of cattle and the habitat of wolves.
The proximity of wolves’ habitats such as state parks and memorial forests, to farms, paves the way for wolf attacks.
It is a blueprint for financial loss for livestock owners in Minnesota.
The grey wolf is protected under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). Over the years since ESA legislation was adopted, the wolf has been listed and delisted, in Minnesota.
Minnesota has the “strongest and strictest” environmental rules, Hart said.
Currently, the grey wolf is listed as a ESA threatened species, in Minnesota, which means it has the potential to become endangered.

The current political administration is poised to have the grey wolf taken off the endangered species list. The last time this happened in Minnesota was 2012. At that time, licensed hunters harvested 413 wolves. It is back on the ESA list...more

Minnesota's over 65 residents want to know why they are being profiled

by Jean Priest for PiCK News

Licensed Minnesota drivers over the age of 65 may be surprised to find the state’s license bureau has taken the liberty of adding the word “senior” to their renewed license. Some may not even realize it until they have carefully inspected their card. Some seniors are saying they are being profiled.

The state of Minnesota is requiring all drivers to have an enhanced drivers’ license by 2020. The enhanced drivers’ license is needed for air travel within the U.S. only.

However, a passportwill cover all travel requirements and there would be no need for an enhanced license.

The author of the enhanced drivers’ license bill was Dennis Smith, a Republican from Maple Grove, Minn. Minnesota was the last state to comply with the federal security standard for the Real I.D. Act of 2005 which was mandated legislation in response to the 9/11 attacks.

When applying for the enhanced license, the government is asking for a significant amount of additional information  drivers did not have to provide before. The State apparently wants to establish the driver’s identity. The enhanced drivers’ license has its own look with different lamination and more holograms...more

Pine County Board puts kibosh on property tax default/repurchase abuse

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News

Commissioners reinforced a decision they made in March 2019 about abuse of repurchase on tax forfeited land, at Tuesday’s regular Pine County Board meeting, held at the North Pine Government Center.

If a property goes into tax forfeiture, the owner can request a repurchase contract and pay 10 percent of the taxes due and the remainder over 10 years at 10 percent interest. 

Some property owners have entered repurchase contracts and then defaulted on the contract. The county has typically allowed them to get another repurchase contract. 

In March 2019, Pine County Deputy Auditor Terry Lovgren explained the repeated abuse by several property owners whose forfeiture was due to non-payment of real estate taxes...more

Commissioners vote to raise preliminary levy for the seventh year in a row

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Commissioners voted to set Pine County’s 2020 preliminary levy at an increase of 3 percent, at the Sept. 17, 2019 regular meeting.
If this holds up and is finalized in December, it will be the seventh straight year of property tax increases totaling approximately 33 percent over that time. The vote was 4-0. Steve Chaffee was absent from the meeting.

Hallan gave an insurance committee report and mentioned negotiations with the employees union bargaining units.
Concerning the cost of the employee insurance benefits, he said there was going to be more of a contribution from employees.
There was a bidding process for insurance. Hallan said it’s still expensive, “But, it’s part of what we provide for employees.”
Hallan told PiCK News they originally expected as much as a 19 percent increase in insurance costs. The actual is 7.5 percent which is less than they expect and out-of-pocket maximums have increased.
In other business:
- The contract with Pine Tech to provide a home for employment services is going away. Central Minnesota Jobs and Training is taking over and will provide the service at two locations - one in Pine City and one in Sandstone, Hallan reported.
- County Land and Resources Manager Caleb Anderson asked the board to approve extending the Noxious Weed and Invasive Plant Grant Program into 2020.
He said town board supervisors are responsible to act as the local weed inspector. “Some county landowners see our position as not appropriate,” was spelled out in the visual presentation of the Noxious Weed program.
The board approved the grant extension 4-0.

SOS Simon addresses voters' issues including gerrymandering

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
There was a light turnout for the Voting and Elections Forum held at Pine Technical Community College, in Pine City, Sept. 16, 2019.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, Pine County Auditor-Treasurer Kelly Schroeder and Pine Tech Government and History teacher Phil Darg offered their opinions on whether voters votes count and if they matter...

photos by A. Croup for PiCK News

SOS Steve Simon

MN SOS Steve Simon, Phil Darg, Auditor-Treasurer Kelly Schroeder

MN Voters must reveal party to receive ballot for March Presidential Primary

by Ailene Croup for PiCK News
Voting should be uncomplicated to encourage people to get to the polls and vote.
Politicians and special interest groups never fail to bring up how voting should be sacred and untampered.
It may seem like politicians are getting a head start on the 2020 elections, bashing their opponents and promoting themselves. Voters will begin suffering through combative and shameful television advertising earlier than usual with Minnesota Legislature’s new edict of March presidential primaries.
Minnesota State Legislators and Governor Dayton decided they needed to complicate the process one more time. There will be two primaries. There will be a presidential primary on March 3, 2020, and a primary for all the other elected offices on August 11.
When a voter walks up to the registration table at the presidential primary, they will be asked to choose a party. They will be handed a ballot from one of four major parties: Republican, Democrat, Legal Marijuana Now Party or Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party.
Confused yet?

For those voters residing in a mail-in ballot precinct, and there are quite of few of those in Pine County, each voter will receive four ballots by mail...continued

Click on this box which will take you to the Secretary of State's website and additional information.


In 2016 legislation was passed establishing a presidential nomination primary. The current election law specific to the presidential primary is in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 207A and Minnesota Rules Chapter 8215. Common questions about the presidential primary are answered below.
When will the presidential nomination primary take place?
March 3, 2020.
Will all parties participate in the presidential nomination primary?
No, only major parties will participate.
Will all parties be on the same ballot?

News Shorts

Nov.1, 1849

Minnesota's First Session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Minnesota adjourned

It has been 150 years since the Territory of Minnesota conducted its First Legislative Session. It would be another 10 years before the first State Legislature would convene.

In that first territorial session, on Nov. 1, 1849, Chapter 3 , Section 2 outlined  the establishment of each county's government in the territory.

"At the general election in November of this year there shall be elected in each county organized for county purposes, three county commissioners, one sheriff, one register of deeds, three county assessors, and one coroner, for the county, and such other territorial, district, county or precinct officers as may be prescribed by law, and two justices of the peace and two constables for each election precinct."

Who was eligible to vote?

Chapter 4 states that all free, white, male inhabitants over the age of 21 and having lived in the territory for six months were eligible.

Chapter 30 gives Elam Greely the authority to build a dam on the Snake River near the outlet of Cross Lake and use it for 12 years.

Chapter 30

For more information about these events:

- County Board meeting Dec. 17, 2019, North Pine Government Center, Sandstone, at 10 a.m.


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Windemere Twp. Board gets no gold stars

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