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St. Croix County's Finance Committee agreed Thursday to allocate $3,000 for legal research for the judge who is presiding over the O'Connell family's civil lawsuit against Catholic bishops. Last August the parents, sister and brothers of Daniel O'Connell filed a lawsuit against U.S. Catholic bishops asking for the names of an estimated 5,000 priests the American church has identified as sexual abusers and predators since the 1950s. O'Connell and intern James Ellison were found shot to death at the O'Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson Feb. 5, 2002.
The deadline is past, but St. Croix County has gotten no bids on 18 acres it owns in New Richmond. Last December an appraiser told the County Board that the parcel -- which was cut off from other "county farm" property by Highway 64 construction -- is worth over $1 million. The land is zoned commercial. At least one developer had shown an active interest in the property and had asked to take soil borings. But even he didn't submit a bid. "We received nothing," reported Administrative Coordinator Chuck Whiting Thursday.
Christian Community Home of Hudson has been chosen as the preferred service provider as the St. Croix County Board looks to sell or rent out the county-owned facility in New Richmond. County Administrator Chuck Whiting announced March 20 that the proposal review committee made the decision Monday and "is initiating exclusive negotiations" with CCH. The Wisconsin law firm of DeWitt Ross & Stevens will represent the county in negotiations. Whiting declined to say how many businesses had submitted proposals.
St. Croix County employees who want to donate their unused paid time off to a co-worker whose infant son is receiving chemotherapy may soon get their wish. The county's Finance Committee voted last week to approve a PTO (paid time off) donation program to help employees who are on unpaid leave due to a life-threatening illness or injury. The policy will go to the full County Board for its action in March. Co-workers have scheduled a series of fundraisers and are looking for other ways to help the family of jailer David Dykes.
The public is invited to an information meeting regarding possible future uses for parts of the 82-acre St. Croix County Government Center site in Hudson. The meeting -- which will be held 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the County Board room of the Government Center in Hudson -- will be hosted by Barsness Consulting Services. The County Board hired Barsness Consulting last fall to develop a process that may lead to the sale of excess land around the Government Center.
In the four years since St. Croix County began taking real estate payments online, the amount paid that way has escalated, reports Treasurer Cheryl Slind. "It amazes me the number of people who will pay their taxes by credit card," said Slind.
As the St. Croix County Board prepares for its 2007 goal-setting session, the plan is to have fewer and more specific goals, said River Falls Supervisor Tom Caflisch. Caflisch briefed other supervisors on behalf of the Administration Committee during the January County Board meeting last week. In previous years supervisors have set as many as 15 goals.
The St. Croix County treasurer's office will act as a pilot in a project to scan and digitize records to store them and eventually make them available to the public online. The St. Croix County Finance Committee voted recently to proceed with a contract to buy software to scan and index tax records. The equipment will be purchased from Cities Digital of Hudson. Treasurer Cheryl Slind said the software scans, images and indexes documents.
Representatives of seven companies potentially interested in taking over St. Croix County's nursing home attended an information meeting this month. Health and Human Services Director Fred Johnson said only one business attended an earlier session. All the information requested or presented at those meetings plus other information potential applicants might want has been posted at the county's Web site, said Johnson. Proposals are due Feb. 15. In related business Tuesday, the County Board added five more members to the team that will review proposals.
A small parcel of land cut off from the "county farm" property by Highway 64 construction is worth over $1 million, an appraiser told St. Croix County Board members recently. "It's a nice piece of property. It has great visibility and good traffic control," said Jeff White, a certified real estate appraiser with Valuation Specialists of Eau Claire. White was hired to do the appraisal as part of a "plan for a plan" for the New Richmond property. He said the new parcel includes about 18.13 acres, but only 12 acres are suitable for building.