There are certain Wright County Board meetings that the commissioners enjoy more than others. The March 19 meeting was one of those, as the county board hosted its annual Wright County Employee Awards Recognition Ceremony, in which employees were honored for achievement and longevity.
The county board honored more than 100 employees for reaching years-of-service milestones, including 52 employees that had reached five years of service to the county, 25 at the 10-year mark, 13 at 15 years, 12 at 20 years, seven at 25 years, three at 30 years and one each at 35 years (Genell Reese of Veteran’s Services) and 40 years (Bill Cordell of the highway department).
Another part of the ceremony was to honor those employees who stood out in individual and group achievement, serving as the unsung employees that take it upon themselves to go above and beyond expectations.
In the individual achievement, Barry Rhineberger of the planning and zoning office was honored for the daunting task of transferring the records for building permits from paper to the electronic medium. Planning and Zoning Administrator Sean Riley presented the award to Rhineberger, pointing out the selfless nature of his task over the last several years.
“The economic condition in our office made it impossible to contract the project out. Barry was in charge of the scanning process, which involved several steps for each document. It took hundreds of hours to do and he took it upon himself to do the work when there was time in his schedule and he never let up. Township after township, Barry got the job done.”
In the area of group achievement, 15 employees in the county assessor’s department were honored for their work in taking on the burden of the sweeping changes that were instituted by the state in Green Acres laws, which reformed the system in which agricultural land was classified and taxed. Much of the enforcement of the Green Acres laws fell on counties and the assessor’s office managed to make the transition without a hiccup in service, despite being a complicated and time-consuming process.
“During the last five years, our office was forced to implement legislative changes in the Green acres laws,” County Assessor Greg Kramber said. “These were dramatic changes. Our staff has made hundreds of visits to residents of the county. These people did an outstanding job of taking on this extraordinary challenge.”
While not often honored for the jobs they perform for the residents of Wright County, the new commissioners acknowledged that the ceremony serves to prove that hundreds of employees working together are need to keep the county operating smoothly.
“This was my first of these,” Commissioner Charlie Borrell said. “It’s great to see how many employees we have that have committed themselves to serving the public and making Wright County government operate. We have excellent employees here and the examples we saw today go to show that.” In other items on the March 19 agenda, the board:
•Appointed Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins to a four-year term that will run through April 30, 2017.
• Authorized signatures on a labor agreement with the Teamsters Local No. 320, which represents the sheriff department’s essential supervisory unit.
• Authorized the replacement of a pair of county positions. One was in the highway department, where the board authorized filling the position of sign technician – a position that has been open since July 2010 due to a hiring freeze. The board also approved filling a vacant deputy sheriff position. There remain three unfilled deputy positions in the county budget.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclist (MORC) organization to create the only narrow track trail in the county parks system at the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park.
•Authorized signatures on a letter to legislators representing Wright County supporting a bill that would give outstate Minnesota a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to parks and trails funding through the Legacy Fund, which was created when Minnesota voters approved a 3/8 cent sales tax. The state currently uses 14 percent of the Legacy fund for parks and trails and much of that is earmarked for metro projects.
• Approved an application for a new precious metals license for American Liberty Gold & Coin in Monticello.
Freelancer John Holler covers government and the Wright County Board of Commissioners.