County board approves Frazee bridge redecking bid

By Robert Williams


Becker County District Judge Gretchen Thilmony gave a Drug Court update and asked for the commissioners’ continued support of the program that began in 2006. The Drug Court is combined between Becker and Clay counties.

“Obviously, the one thing you want when someone is charged and convicted, you don’t want them to do it again,” said Thilmony. “That’s the whole goal. We don’t want them to be back in the criminal justice system. For those people whose impetus was to commit their crime was an addiction, we treat the addiction. That can, many times, change behavior and therefore, reduce recidivism and see them be productive members of society.”

Becker County District Court Judge Gretchen Thilmony

As of May, current participants in Clay and Becker County Drug Courts are 20 people, five in Becker and two more approved for Becker.

Thilmony reported on other positive statistics from the program.

While in the program, 120 graduates were employed and one a full-time college student; 58 obtained their driver’s license, all required payees were current on child support payments upon graduation. Active participants were sober for one year upon graduation. All had completed 50 hours of community service and paid off all court fines and fees and graduates completed an essay on how the program affected them and how they gave back to the community.

There were 23 (19 percent) individuals who reoffended.

The veteran’s drug court has one participant and eight graduates, three from Becker County, for a total number of program graduates at 129.

“Eighty-two percent have not reoffended; those are really good numbers,” said Thilmony.

Multiple board members praised the results of the drug court.

Drug courts closely monitor a defendant’s progress toward sobriety and recovery through ongoing treatment, frequent drug testing, and regular mandatory check-in court appearances. The programs use a range of immediate sanctions and incentives to foster behavior change.

Thilmony also reported Kristal Kadrie was hired as the new drug court coordinator replacing Don Kautzmann, who moved on to a different branch. Kadrie formerly worked for the Becker County Attorney’s office and as a judicial law clerk in Clay County.

Frazee bridge

County Highway Engineer Jim Olson reported on a bid award for redecking of the East Main Avenue bridge in the city of Frazee.

According to Olson, the lone bid of $292,532 from PCI Roads LLC, out of St. Michael, was significantly over the engineering estimate. 

The original bid was 25 percent over the engineer’s estimate, but due to the nature of the specialized work, and the small quantities of various payment items, the engineer considered the bid reasonable, other than $43,500 for bituminous paving work. That was removed from the bid for a final total of $249,032.

The bridge is part of the 2024 East Main Avenue project and plans are to complete the project on that timeline.

County Surveyor

In July of 2022, Josh Pfeffer with Meadowlands was appointed as the County Surveyor on an annual basis. The board approved a four-year extension upon the recommendation of County Administrator Pat Oman.

County Coroner

Chief Deputy Shane Richard reported on a temporary medical examiner agreement with Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office to provide coroner services until the board fills the position. The opening exists after the untimely passing of former coroner Dr. Knute E. Thorsgard on May 22.

According to acting chairman John Okeson, there is a qualified local individual who has expressed interest in the position.

Environmental Services

A one-year agreement with Better Futures Minnesota (BFM) was approved to provide labor for a mattress deconstruction program.

BFM will complete mattress deconstruction at a rate of $8.33 per mattress, while the county will provide space and equipment  to process the mattresses at the recycling facility.

Currently, the county collects 1,500-1,800 mattresses per year at the transfer station. 

The recycling program will be self-funding.

Current tip fee charges are $16 for small mattresses and $20 for large. Mattress recycling disposal fees will be $12 and $15, respectively.

Neighboring counties have expressed interest in utilizing the program when it becomes operational.

Parks & Rec

The board approved $4,590 to purchase a dock for the county public access on Big Elbow Lake.