Kuster honored as Human Services Board lay member

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Judy Kuster of New Ulm, right, holds a certificate of appreciation from the Brown County Board Tuesday in recognition of her 30 years of service to local residents as a lay member of the County Board. Brown County Human Services Director Barb Dietz is pictured at left.

NEW ULM — Brown County Commissioners thanked Judy Kuster of New Ulm for 30 years of public service as a lay person on the Brown County Human Services Board Tuesday.

Kuster received a certificate of appreciation. She spoke humbly about her time on the board. Chairman Tony Berg also spoke humbly — of Kuster’s longtime service.

“I learned a lot from you. Your questions served me well,” Berg said to Kuster.

Commissioner Dave Borchert asked her what some of the biggest changes were during her time on the board.

“Establishing county (Heartland Express) buses were among the good changes,” Kuster said. “Other changes like daycare were tougher. Addiction and placement of children were very important.”

Kuster said her family benefitted from some changes.

“We have nine children and adopted seven of them,” said Kuster. “Respite care helped me get through some of it. Dr. Ann (Vogel) provided some of it. The community has been very supportive of us too. Some of you have been great friends. Thank you for that.”

Kuster said her children benefitted from social services camping experiences.

“A Brown County Secret Santa helped us with our large food budget. I still don’t know who it was,” she added.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved:

• Appointing Vicki Sieve as the new Human Services Board lay member effective March 22, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2023. Sieve is a longtime employee of MBW Company, now EON.

• An autism services report from social worker Kallie Schugel and waiver supervisor Annie Braun. Schugel said her caseload continues to rise due to more referrals. Braun said Brown County is one of the few in Minnesota with an autism social worker.

Schugel said the earlier the diagnosis and intervention, the more likely issues will be reduced.

• A clinical supervision contract effective April 1 through Dec. 31 with Southern Minnesota Counseling Services.

• Merle and Rhonda Wenger’s $108,500 bid for estate recovery property at 1315 N. German St. Human Services transferred the property into the ownership of the county at the end of 2021. The property was put up for sale using the publication and sealed bid process.

• A COVID-19 update from Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz, who reported: “We’re feeling quite a bit better about where we’re at. Brown County has been at a low level for three weeks. Some area counties are at the medium level. If exposed, people need to continue to isolate, quarantine and mask.” Moritz said 46.3% of Brown County residents age 5 and older got booster shots. She urged anyone eligible for booster shots to get them, because studies show it makes them much less likely to get infected.

Moritz said long (long-term) COVID can affect neurologic, psychiatric, cardiac, pulmonary and gastrointestinal systems and has other more specific complications. “It can really affect some people, even very healthy people,” she said.

• Altering the County Ditch (CD) 1 ditch system, which affects a highway project on CSAH 11. A public hearing was set for April 19.

The road is planned for reconstruction and shoulder widening of the rural section north of Essig this summer.

• The purchase of a $338,023 John Deere 772GP highway dept. motor grader.

• The purchase of two Cambium networks from Alpha Wireless for $9,468.92. The units are needed by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center redundancy connection to the MnDOT ARMER radio system. The current equipment, bought in 2010, unexpectedly went down on March 16 and will be kept as an emergency backup. Funding will come from the county 911 funds line item.


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