Becker County discusses new cannabis ordinance

By Robert Williams


The Becker County Board approved a modification to an existing feedlot permit for Jennie-O to construct a building at 12255 Frazee Road two weeks ago. The building will replace a barn that burned down five years ago, but it will not be built on the exact footprint of the former building.

The building will not be built any closer to Chilton Lake and there will be a reduction in animal units at the site, according to the permit request.

Cannabis Ordinance

The county will have a public hearing Aug. 15 on an upcoming cannabis ordinance. 

The county discussed using the Detroit Lakes city ordinance: cannabis-use is prohibited in public with all areas within the city limits categorized as public except for: private residences including the yard; private property not generally accessible to the public; and on the premises of an establishment or licensed-event that permits consumption.

McDonald introduced a draft ordinance that was created by the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and Minnesota County Attorneys Association.

The board agreed to publish the ordinance McDonald presented and have a public hearing at the next board meeting, 10 a.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Bud Capping

A low bid of $17,955.04 by New ECO, LLC, was accepted by the board for bud capping, The Becker County Natural Resources Management office accepted two sealed quotes for bud capping on approximately 321.1 acres of pine plantations. Approximately 213,750 tree seedlings. The other bid was from Thomas Forestry for $19,021.46.

County Law Library

County Attorney Brian W. McDonald and William Wilson, the county law librarian, approached the board looking to reinstate the county law library fee. The fee is attached to criminal convictions and other court filings. The fee has ranged from $5-15, the latter most recently.

The annual meeting of the law library was recently held where the reinstatement was discussed. The fees were suspended in August of 2020 during the pandemic with a secondary reason of the budget of the law library account being sustainable.

Wilson explained the uses of the fees are to cover a number of services provided by the law library, including digital access to records. Wilson noted that books are becoming more of a rarity with the digitization of data and the costs of that process and online hosting.

“That’s where much of our money goes,” he said.

The library also has a program to assist plaintiffs or defendants that choose to defend themselves.

“It’s a wonderful service for those who cannot afford an attorney,” Wilson said.

The fees were reinstated unanimously.


Financial representative Bruce Kimmel gave the board a bonding update. The county’s levy-funded debt service by budget year shows what Kimmel called a moderate debt burden and significantly lower than most counties.

Kimmel provided bond updates on the courthouse addition, the county jail and the solid waste, transit and highway facilities. 

Given the low interest rates ranging from two to three percent, refinancing or redemption opportunities for the bonds were not recommended.

“That’s actually a good thing because you’ve been able to lock in such low interest rates,” said Kimmel.

The rates are fixed. The county has the option to prepay or refinance the bonds.

Kimmel also reported the S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA’ on Becker County, Minn.’s general obligation (GO) bonds outstanding, and assigned its ‘AA+’

long-term rating to the county’s anticipated $9.795 million series 2022A GO bonds.

The outlook is stable and the rating is the second-best awarded.

The upgrade reflects the opinion that Becker County’s strong management and steadily growing revenues, which have contributed to consistently strong budgetary performance and very strong reserves, should continue to support a strong financial profile over the two-year outlook horizon. Further supporting the upgrade are the county’s improved income and wealth metrics, as well as Becker County’s very strong and affordable debt and contingent liability profile.

Kimmel praised the county’s fiscal management and budget practices.

Deputy Sheriff opening

Sheriff Todd Glander made a personnel request to fill a vacant deputy sheriff position.


Abby Anderson from the Lake Park Betterment Association (LPBA) was appointed to the county’s Recreational Advisory Committee (RAC) by board chairman Barry Nelson. The goal of the LPBA is to enhance the city’s amenities and increase the opportunity for citizens to participate in recreational and community building activities.

An at-large opening on the RAC will be advertised to the public to measure any interest in filling the spot.

Commissioner Erica Jepson was appointed to the Senior Council on Aging. Nelson noted a lack of communication between the committee and board and wanted a commissioner in attendance. The council meets quarterly and submites minutes and agendas to commissioners.