Apple Valley reached a settlement agreement in late November with former employee Amanda Barnes, who had alleged that while employed with the city as a clerk and later a police records technician, she was touched inappropriately and subjected to sexual comments from co-workers, said Barnes' lawyer Adrianna Shannon.
Barnes alleged that supervisors did nothing after she reported several claims of sexual harassment between 2011 and 2016.
But Jana O'Leary Sullivan, the city's attorney, said the city did take action, hiring two investigators to look into complaints Barnes made in 2016.
"Neither substantiated the bulk of her complaints," Sullivan said.
Barnes quit her job in May 2016 and filed a discrimination charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
The city denies any wrongdoing. However, as a result of the settlement, Barnes will receive a $100,000 payment — which includes $40,000 in attorney fees — in exchange for dropping claims against the city. The city agrees to keep records of Barnes' complaint and ensure that annual "respectful workplace" training continues to occur for city employees and supervisors. It also agrees to update its sexual harassment policy, which it was already doing, to include a provision stating that supervisors may be subjected to employment actions if they don't report discrimination complaints.
Sullivan said Barnes was a good employee and the city was sorry to see her go.
"This case sets an example for employers regarding the importance of accountability and follow-through in the workplace," Shannon said.
Stuewe family is Farm Family of the Year
The Paul and Susan Stuewe family was honored as the Carver County Farm Family of the Year at the Dec. 13 county board meeting.
The Carver County Extension Committee picks the Farm Family of the Year as part of a statewide program that recognizes farm families' contributions to the agriculture industry and their communities.
The Stuewe family has run a dairy farm near Cologne for four generations, with son Daniel now pitching in, managing the herd's nutrition needs. The Stuewes milk 90 cows a day and raise their own heifers. They also plant 250 acres of corn and alfalfa for feed.
Paul Stuewe took over his dad's farm in 1994 and has been active with the Midwest Dairy Association, serving on its board of directors representing Carver and McLeod counties. He's also the secretary-treasurer for the Mid-County Co-op Board and the Dairy Herd Improvement Association and a board member of the Carver County American Dairy Association.
Susan Stuewe is completing her second term as secretary of the Carver County American Dairy Association board and also volunteers locally.
Both of their children — Daniel and Clare Stuewe — were active in FFA; Daniel Stuewe graduated from Ridgewater College with a degree in farm operations with a dairy management emphasis.
Commissioners raise own salaries by $13,500
The Carver County Board members voted to raise their own salaries at the Dec. 20 meeting to make their pay scale closer to other counties'.
"The ongoing misalignment with market for commissioner salaries is a concern for our organization and from an employee-relations perspective," said Kerie Anderka, that county's director of employee relations, as she recommended the board take action.
Each of the five commissioners will make $62,064 in 2017, $13,500 more than the $48,564 they earned in 2016, about a 28 percent increase. Monthly expense allowances will increase by $100, including $715 for the chair, $640 for the vice chair and $615 for other commissioners.
The average 2016 county commissioner's salary in the seven county metro area — minus Hennepin and Ramsey — is $74,176, according to Carver County staff.
Three commissioners — Jim Ische, Randy Maluchnik and Gayle Degler — approved the salary hike while Commissioners Tom Workman and Tim Lynch voted against it.
"It's always made me very uncomfortable setting our own pay," Degler said, adding that while he understood the reasons for the increase he couldn't support the motion.
Degler said the board would be "setting a bad precedent" if it didn't raise salaries closer to the regionwide average, adding that he will donate his increase to local nonprofits.
Funding for the increases will come from the commissioner contingency fund, said Dave Hemze, county manager.
The commissioners got raises for the last three years ranging from $1,136 to $2,000. The county sheriff and county attorney also got raises at the meeting. The county sheriff will get paid $150,142 in 2017, up 5.7 percent from the $142,000 he got this year. The county attorney will get $162,491, an 8.3 percent increase over the 2016 salary of $152,000.
New 'Siberian Shindig' event coming to Lake Minnewashta park
Carver County Parks will host its first "Siberian Shindig" event at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park in Chanhassen from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 7.
The day will feature dog sled rides, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and kick sledding. A space for registration, warming and refreshments will be provided, together with a campfire. The cost is $10 each or $35 for a family of four. That covers five winter activities. Dog sled rides are limited; registration will begin at 9:45 a.m.
Other dog sled events will be held Jan. 21 and Feb. 11 at Baylor Regional Park in the evenings.
For information, contact the parks office at 952-466-5250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.