Attendant Care soon ready to open in Devils Lake

Louise Oleson
The Ramsey County Commission met Tuesday morning.

A bright spot in Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Ramsey County Commission was a discussion initiated by Rhonda Allery, director of Lakes Social Services.

Reporting to the commission about grant funds that have been made available from the Devils Lake Youth Authority, Allery discussed how close the county’s Attendant Care facility is to opening.

The facility will be located in one of the buildings on the North Dakota State School for the Deaf campus and is in the process of being renovated for Attendant Care use.

“We are this close to opening,” Allery said, holding up thumb and forefinger indicating half an inch or so.

She commended Cindy Halvorson, who has done a very good job getting everything ready. Allery said they had worked it out and that Steve Nelson, as Ramsey County Sheriff, will be Halvorson’s boss, overseeing the Attendant Care Program.

Attendant Care provides a safe place for a juvenile to be housed that is supervised but not in lock up, whether that need is for a few hours or overnight.

It is a short-term alternative to jail or a detention setting provided for youth who need supervision after being picked up and charged with an offense by local law enforcement. It serves juveniles whose needs are best met in a less restrictive environment as they await court intervention or parental pick-up.

Allery also mentioned other positive services being discussed within the community to serve youth, including Restorative Justice and programs other larger cities have seen great success with.

Allery, Commissioner Adam Leiphon, Donovan Foughty and Patty Rime have been meeting together and discussing possibilities of addressing the needs of youth before Law Enforcement needs to become involved.

“We need to learn from these other communities and figure out how to scale our programs to what we need for our community,” Allery said.

One of their “big needs” at the moment are volunteers who are willing to sit with the young people in Attendant Care, when needed. That would be on a very part time basis, Allery explained, so they are calling it a volunteer position, although it reimburses the volunteer approximately $11 an hour for their service.

She reported that if they had it in place in the past two months they could have used Attendant Care about six times.

Other business

Ramsey County Auditor Elizabeth Fischer reported that the money for social services had come in from the state.

Commissioner Ed Brown wanted it on the record that the commission officially thanks the legislators for their hard work that has resulted in this benefit to the taxpayers. [North Dakota now picks up the costs of social services beyond the 20 mills the county pays.]

Tax Director Beth Black reported that the tax office was working on Homestead Credit applications. She also informed the commission that three more assessors will be taking the classes the state now requires so they can be certified.

Veteran Services Officer Stacey Twete reported that he had been working with a number of veterans and their families. Since he’d last reported he said he had seen 79 veterans or veterans’ family members.

Emergency Manager Kristen Nelsen reported on the new AED the county is getting for the Memorial Building and that Valley Med Flight was offering the county a package deal that could cover all county residents for their services.

She will do more research on this matter and it will be discussed at the next meeting.

A request to pay the LEC bill of just over $80,000 led to a conflict among the commissioners as Commissioner Bill Mertens questioned why they can’t keep the LEC jail filled with more inmates.

He claimed that the state was sending inmates to be incarcerated out of state and that those inmates should come to Devils Lake instead, to help with the LEC bottom line.

Commissioner Brown said they are trying to work that out but because Lake Region lacks services those inmates need, they have been unable, so far, to accomplish that.

Besides, Brown pointed out, little had been done in past years as far as maintenance on the facility and now they are forced to, adding to the current bills, as well. Later Brown did point out that the LEC ended 2015 financially in the black in spite of everything.

A report from Highway Superintendent Kevin Fieldsend and the commissioners’ portfolio reports concluded the meeting.