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Board approves several changes in Human Services Department

There are a lot of changes happening in Human Services in Wadena County.

Tanya Lesky, Human Services Department Chair, came before the board with several items needing action.

The department has gone through several staffing transitions recently that the commissioners need to formally approve. An eligibility worker and a social worker resigned. The board accepted their resignations. They also accepted the retirement of an office support specialist. Lesky hired a replacement eligibility worker, which was approved by commissioners. A new case aid worker was also hired and approved.

Two current workers changed positions within the department with no change in grade or pay. Cassandra Klimek transitioned from child protection to care coordination and Kirsten Roberts transitioned from child protection to licensing.

Cheri Doods transitioned to social services supervisor with an increase in grade from grade 55, step 5, to grade 56, step 2.

The board also approved a temporary employee until June 1 and approved two interns, one paid by NJPA, and the other an intern out of St. Scholastica.

In addition to all the staffing changes, Lesky and Amie Gendron, Human Services, asked the board to increase the spending limit on a credit card from $1,000 to $5,000 for the Children and Family Unit. The increase would allow the unit to make the purchase process run more smoothly.

"We're finding that we're not able to purchase the things that we need to because we're waiting for payments to process. It's a constant flow problem," Lesky said.

The board approved the credit limit increase.

Lesky also asked the board to renew a fraud contract for $500 with the Wadena Police Department to provide fraud investigation services. Commissioners approved the contract renewal.

Lesky and Gendron also presented a short promotional video Human Services made to celebrate National Social Workers Month. Employees of the department were asked what they stood for and help put up posters with various words to describe why they do what they do. Lesky and Gendron hope the video will be available for general viewing on the Wadena County website.

In other news, the board:

• Approved an exempt permit for a raffle for the Wadena Chamber of Commerce.

• Approved a temporary agreement in regards to the Workforce Center lease through April 30 until a new agreement could be finalized.

• Approved charters for the Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment, Geographic Information Systems Advisory Committee and Management Team.

• Transferred $200,000 from the general fund and $200,000 from the Human Services account to the non-levied building fund.

• Scheduled a meeting with Sen. Paul Gazelka and Rep. John Poston at the Senate Office building March 27 to talk about county programing and disparity.

Board holds special meeting to discuss environmental scan

The Wadena County Board held a special meeting March 22 to chart a course of action following the environmental scan.

Commissioners met with Toni Smith, educator/facilitator with the Association of Minnesota Counties, to formulate some concrete steps to move forward with the information received from the environmental scan.

Smith guided the commissioners in first determining what positives came out the the scan. Some positives mentioned included identifying which departments are healthy and functioning well, that employees were engaged in the process, that people are more aware that each department needs the others and that employees can see that the commissioners care about the professional environment.

Commissioners were next asked what they hope to achieve. Some hopes were that the board was looking for repair, trust and respect and a mutual understanding, both within the departments and between departments. Commissioner Chuck Horsager said he hoped that every employee would come to work with a positive attitude and common purpose. Other commissioners expressed a hope that employees would understand what commissioners do and what their roles are as liaisons.

Smith asked commissioners to reflect on how they could help departments with follow-through. With that in mind, commissioners approved Smith creating a short survey with the help of Curtis Kreklau, Human resources Director, asking four to five questions on what the employees see as the focus and vision of the county in the next 2-5 years. Smith will be collecting the data and discerning common themes and ideas in time to present at a strategic meeting between the commissioners and department heads, which will take place April 5.

Additionally, Smith will be holding a LEAN training session open to all county employees, department heads, supervisors and commissioners on April 5 in the courthouse auditorium from 1-3:30 p.m.

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