Commissioners to discuss how to continue work of USAC

Substance abuse group disbanded Sept. 29

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners have been asked to discuss how to prevent substance abuse for people of all ages with three healthcare leaders on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz, Adult Health Team Supervisor Jaimee Brand and Jen Maurer of the Heart of New Ulm (HONU) will present information on how to continue a county-wide coalition to deal with substance abuse.

Earlier this year, the Brown County Underage Substance Abuse Coalition (USAC) director resigned and the organization’s board decided to disband as of Sept. 29, 2019. It was decided not to pursue more grant funding since completing grant applications without a staff director was not feasible.

Local health leaders felt it was time to create a coalition that would become a county-wide HONU action team similar to the work of the Mental Health and Wellness Action Team (MHWAT).

Brown County Public Health and HONU would share coordination and facilitation of the action team identified initially in 2020 to focus on vaping, Tobacco 21 (raising the minimum sales age of all tobacco products to 21), and tobacco-free parks.

Commissioners will also consider:

• Accepting the 2020 Crime Victim Services grant agreement from the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety/Office of Justice Programs.

Brown County Crime Victim Services is funded by the Office of Justice Program with federal and state funding. The probation department has been awarded the grant since 2011 due to excellent services provided by Brown County Crime Victim Specialist Bernie Epper.

The $137,062 grant with a $25,700 matching requirement of in-kind support, is effective from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2021. It supports general crime victims. The program also receives about $5,000 from United Way. Brown County does not provide additional funding to support the program.

• Approving ending the Brown County Auditor-Treasurer (A-T) and Assessor offices participation in the Avenu Tax project. This would give counties a better user interface and tax system to work with, according to the request.

After discussions with the A-T, assessor and administrator, it was felt the county would be better off expressing wishes to back out of the contract agreement and wait to see how things progress with a new RFP (request for proposals) expected soon.

• Approving submission of the DNR Emerald Ash Borer Community Forest Grant and if awarded, provide 25 percent match of awarded funds. Brown County Planning and Zoning is requested the $100,000 (maximum amount) to be used in county parks.

The Brown County Parks Department has more than 1,200 ash trees in four parks.

Grant funds would be used to create a tree inventory, remove ash tree materials, and replant new trees.

• Recognize Brown County Commissioner Dave Borchert on winning the 2019 Association of Minnesota Emergency Managers (AMEM) Emergency Management Advocacy Award.

When Borchert was elected in 2016, he educated commissioners on emergency management issues at Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) meetings.

He testified before the Minnesota House Public Safety and Policy Committee, gaining association support backing the Emergency Management funding bill. Borchert is also the New Ulm Chief of Police and the City of New Ulm Emergency Manager.

• The board meeting starts at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 1 in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com)