County departments replacing employees who have left

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Morrison County has not filled many vacant positions as employees have left the county since about 2008. But requests from three departments to hire replacements for soon-to-be-vacated positions and/or to adjust the rankings for remaining employees as changes are made in how department work is accomplished were approved by the County Board, Tuesday.

The Public Health Department will be replacing two nurses who have resigned for various reasons.

“They are case managers,” said Public Health Director Bonnie Paulsen. “We can’t get by with just one replacement as the case load is dictated by regulation.”

The two nurse positions each manage a full load of 60-80 elderly clients.

“Morrison County’s elderly are the second-poorest in Minnesota,” Paulsen said. “We need to take care of those cases assigned to us. We do this for health plans and are contracted at a certain case-load.”

County Commissioner Jeff Jelinski pointed out that both of the positions are paid for from funds that come to the County from insurance companies.

Public Health finds it challenging to attract qualified applicants for the nurse positions, so the County may possibly fill them with social workers.

“Although nurses currently fill these positions, we’ll see if we can draw on both nurses and social workers; both are qualified,” said Paulsen.

The Sheriff’s office was approved to re-rate a jail programmer position due to the loss of two people.

“We didn’t fill the assistant jail administrator or the lead jail programmer positions, both of which were grade 28,” said Sheriff Michel Wetzel. “Our current jail programmer has assumed many duties with no increase in pay.”

Due to a decrease in jail numbers, the County can still adequately conduct business, Wetzel said.

“But we re-examined the programmer duties and recommend moving that position from grade 26 to grade 28,” he said.

The Public Works Department made a request to bring in a seasonal engineer to oversee the construction of cell five at the landfill.

“We’re struggling to find candidates who are qualified at the current step four,” said Director Steve Backowski. “Consultants are paying higher than we are.”

Backowski explained that the new cell project requires some special certification.

“We need to be able to deviate to a higher step than step four,” he said.

The Board approved hiring an engineer at a step no higher than step nine.