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Paynesville Press - December 24, 2003

Stearns County Commissioners purchase land

By Michael Jacobson

The Stearns County Board of Commissioners took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 16.

• The commissioners agreed to move ahead with the purchase of land - on Co. Rd. 138 in Waite Park - where a new service center could eventually be located.

This service center would be designed to carry out county services that most people, especially those living in the western part of the county, currently have to come to downtown St. Cloud to receive. These services could include licenses, public health, environmental services like building or feedlot permits, and land records.

Although the commissioners directed staff to go ahead with purchasing the land, it has not decided how the land will be used. Intentions at this point are to build another service center to make many of the county services more accessible to the public. If this plan moves forward, the timetable for construction of a service center facility has yet to be determined.

• Stearns County is applying for a $222,750 grant to help the Cold Spring area recover after this fall's school shooting. The federal agency - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - has funds available for communities who have experienced a disastrous event that resulted in an increased need for mental health and substance abuse services. The school shooting at Rocori High School in September qualifies as such an event.

Fifteen representatives from Cold Spring, along with county staff, have been meeting to explore the needs of the community as well as deciding what resources are still needed. This group decided it was critical to continue crisis counseling and assure access to mental health services for everyone, even those who can't afford it; provide training for school and community members on identifying and addressing risk behaviors and improving communication; and organizing support groups for community members.

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