Applications to the Washington County Sheriff's Office for permits to carry weapons have nearly tripled since 2011, leading to longer processing times and a drain on staff who have other assignments, Sheriff Bill Hutton said.
The County Board approved a new half-time position to process requests, which ballooned from 1,354 in 2011 to 3,417 filed in the county last year.
The continuing increase in permits also brings an increase in yearly criminal history checks that must be completed for those with current permits. The increase has pushed processing of permits from five days to nearly 30 days, Hutton said. The salary for the half-time position will be paid from permit-to-carry application fees.
The County Board also approved the hiring of a full-time public safety system manager who will be responsible for Washington County's new record management, jail management, and computer-aided dispatch system. The new manager will be the main contact for all police agencies and several fire departments in the county.
Commissioner thanks board for support
Gary Kriesel, the longest-serving current member of the Washington County Board, thanked fellow commissioners last week for "having my back" while he's been fighting cancer.
Kriesel, diagnosed last fall with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, said recently that tests showed the cancer had disappeared. However, "unanticipated complications from surgery kind of hit me for a loop," he said last week after being absent for a few meetings. "Doctors tell me I'm about four to six weeks from being fully healed, so in two weeks I plan to be there," Kriesel said to applause from fellow commissioners and several county employees in the boardroom.
Hutton seeks third term as Sheriff'
Sheriff Bill Hutton said he intends to seek re-election this year to a third term at the helm of Washington County's largest law enforcement agency. Hutton was elected in 2006 in a narrow victory over incumbent Steve Pott and re-elected in 2010 when he was unopposed on the ballot.
No other candidates have indicated public interest in the job, although they have until June to meet a filing deadline.
Hutton's public safety partner in the Law Enforcement Center in Stillwater, County Attorney Pete Orput, also has said he will run for re-election this fall. Both jobs have four-year terms.
Hutton, 54, was a captain at the Oakdale Police Department when he was elected sheriff. He has been a patrol officer, detective, detective sergeant, captain of investigations, and captain of patrol. He has a master of arts degree from the University of St. Thomas and has attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy. Before he began his law enforcement career 30 years ago, he was executive director of the Forest Lake Area Youth Service Bureau.
Appointments made to advisory boards
The Washington County Board last week made appointments and reappointments to advisory boards:
• Jack Lavold, Cottage Grove, and Michael Madigan, Woodbury, were reappointed to the South Washington County Watershed District Board to three-year terms expiring May 1, 2017.
• Lisa Genosky, Woodbury, was appointed to the Historic Courthouse Advisory Committee, to a first term expiring Dec. 31, 2015.
• Brian Zeller, Lakeland, was appointed to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board of Commissioners, to a first term expiring Dec. 31, 2016.
More state inmates housed at county jail
The Washington County Board has approved an agreement between the Sheriff's Office and the state of Minnesota that will allow an increase in the number of prison inmates that the state will house in the county jail.
The county already has an agreement with the state Department of Corrections for housing offenders in the county jail. This is an amendment to that agreement and increases the total contract by $140,000, to $240,000 a year.
County backs plan for new fire station
A city of Bayport plan to buy surplus state land for a new fire station now has support from the Washington County Board.
A bill in the Minnesota Legislature would convey the 4.2-acre site south of Stillwater prison to Bayport at no cost. The Bayport Fire Department serves Bayport, Baytown Township, Oak Park Heights and West Lakeland Township.
The current Bayport Fire Station was built in the 1940s and is in need of extensive repairs. The station is also undersized, the county said, to serve several high-value properties, including Andersen Corporation, the King Plant, two state prisons, high-density senior housing, a new St. Croix River bridge, and two public schools.
Washington County was the latest local government to endorse the legislation.
Ski area approved for liquor license
Afton Alps Resort in Denmark Township has received a renewal for its on-sale and Sunday liquor license for a fee of $2,200.
Washington County processes all liquor licenses for townships within the county. According to state law, the county can issue a Sunday liquor license only if the township has previously authorized Sunday licenses by the vote of township residents. The license fees pay for administrative costs and compliance and verification checks.
Kevin Giles; Libor Jany