Molly O'Rourke and board on her retirement.jpg

Washington County commissioners presented outgoing Administrator Molly O’Rourke with a copy of a resolution that recognized and honored the work that she has done at Washington County for the past 25 years. They are Commissioner Lisa Weik, District 5, Commissioner Gary Kriesel, District 3, Commissioner Fran Miron, District 1, O’Rourke, Commissioner Wayne A. Johnson, District 4, and Commissioner Stan Karwoski, District 2.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution Jan. 28 recognizing and honoring Molly O’Rourke, who retired from her position as county administrator.

O’Rourke was hired by Washington County March 13, 1995. She was promoted to the position of Director of Assessment and Taxation in 1998, promoted to Deputy Administrator in 2001, and promoted to County Administrator in 2012.

During her nearly 25 years of work at the county, O’Rourke focused on ensuring that the county provided excellent customer service, focused on prevention activities, protected and improved the county’s financial health, and increased the engagement of county employees, as well as many other accomplishments and achievements. O’Rourke was twice recognized by her peers in 2019 with awards for her outstanding leadership.

County Board sets election judge compensation

The Washington County Board of Commissioners set the compensation rate Jan. 28 for election judges for the 2020 elections.

The proposed pay for an election judge is $11 per hour, a co-head judge is $13 per hour, a head election judge is $15 per hour, and absentee ballot election judge is $16 per hour.

Approximately 600 election judges will be recruited, trained, and assigned to polling locations for the cities of Forest Lake, Grant, Lakeland, Landfall, Oakdale, Pine Springs, and Woodbury. The county also hires election judges to assist with absentee voting. The other cities and townships in Washington County will recruit and assign judges in their own communities.

The cities will reimburse the costs of precinct election judges, plus county staff costs according to the terms of election service agreements that they have with the county.

County staff reviewed election judge pay at other metropolitan area municipalities and recommended similar rates.

County Board increases support for 4-H programs

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the Minnesota Extension Service Jan. 28 that increases the support that the county provides to the program.

The agreement runs through Dec. 31, 2021.

The agreement outlines the relationship between the two parties for funding, staffing, and in-kind services, and supports 4-H program activities in the county. The agreement for 2019 included a full-time and two three-quarter time staff for 4-H program coordinators for community youth development and the Youth Teaching Youth school-based programs. The program coordinators are employees of the University of Minnesota, and have offices at the county Government Center.

The new agreement reflects the shared arrangement with increased county funding. In addition to the program coordinators previously funded by the county, the new agreement adds money for one-quarter time of the executive administrative support position, while the Washington County 4-H Federation will fund just more than a half-time position.

The cost for the services for 2020 is $203,069, which is just more than a $15,000 increase over 2019.

Sheriff’s Office receives gifts to support K-9 unit

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office will receive $2,000 from the E. Theodore and Lois M. Thompson Family Fund of the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation to support the K-9 Unit of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

The grant is made on behalf of John and Rosie Thompson. The donation will be used to purchase K-9 training aids, leather scratch pants, and arm gauntlets for each handler.

The Sheriff’s Office also received a $1,146 gift from the Oakdale Gun Club to support the K-9 unit. The money will be used to rebuild the K-9 agility equipment.

The County Board accepted the gifts Jan. 28.

$390,000 will be used to restore 166 acres of oak savanna at Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Washington County will receive a $390,000 grant from the Metro Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program to restore 166 acres of oak savanna and prairie within Lake Elmo Park Reserve.

The grant is part of the Outdoor Heritage Fund, one of four funds established by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Funding is appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature and recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Prairie and oak savanna are key habitats within the St. Paul Baldwin Plains and Moraines Ecological Subsection, and contain rare plant, pollinator, and wildlife communities. Project expenses for the restoration project will include contracted services for removal and control of invasive shrubs, restoring prairie, and purchase of native seed.

A 10% in-kind match is required, which will be provided by staff time to plan and implement the project.

County receives grant for local emergency management programs

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a grant agreement between the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for $111,349 for local emergency management programs between Jan. 1, 2019, and Jan. 31, 2020.

This money will cover personnel costs, including salary, overtime and fringe benefits for the Washington County Emergency Operations Center staff. The grant requires a 100% match, which is covered by levy dollars.

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