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May 19th, 2020

Commissioner Proceedings

May 19, 2020

The Lake of the Woods County Board of Commissioners met in special session on Tuesday, May 19 2020 at Lake of the Woods County Government Center in the Commissioners’ Room. 


Chair Jon Waibel called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited with the following members present: Commissioners: Joe Grund (by phone), Jon Waibel, Buck Nordlof, Cody Hasbargen and Ed Arnesen. Also present were: County Auditor/Treasurer Lorene Hanson, Emergency Management Director Jill Hasbargen-Olson, County Attorney James Austad.



Motion was made by Commissioner Cody Hasbargen, seconded by Commissioner Buck Nordlof and carried as follows, For: Commissioner Cody Hasbargen, Joe Grund, Ed Arnesen, Buck Nordlof and Jon Waibel; Against: None, to approve the agenda with the addition of Support for Charter Boats/Guiding Fishing.



Jill Hasbargen Olson, Emergency Management, provided an update.  She has not heard of any concerns about the Lake of the Woods County COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that was implemented at the County and suggested to start thinking about when to end the County’s Declaration of Emergency.  Postcards will be sent out to residents of Lake of the Woods County this week with information on cleaning and social distancing. 

Kay M. Schell, CHI LakeWood Public Health, talked about the Governor’s Five-Point Plan for Protecting Minnesota’s Long-Term Care Residents and Workers.  She said that the COVID-19 quick tests should be ready by May 26, 2020 and that the plan for the graduation ceremony follows MN Department of Health guidelines.

Charter Boats/Guiding Fishing Resolution

The following resolution was offered by Commissioner Ed Arnesen, seconded by Commissioner Cody Hasbargen and carried as follows:  For: Commissioner: Ed Arnesen, Joe Grund, Cody Hasbargen, Buck Nordlof and Jon Waibel; Against:  None. 





WHEREAS; the Lake of the Woods County Board of Commissioners is in support of the following letter of support for a Charter Boat Safety Plan due to COVID-19:

Dear Governor Walz:

First, we want to thank you and your staff for the efforts during this COVID-19 pandemic.  These are certainly very challenging times with tough decisions having to be made.

Charter boats are a staple in Lake of the Woods County, enabling people without boats or those intimidated by big water, to successfully fish the lake.  Without charter boat services, those tourists may not come here and the cabins would sit empty.  The resorts and associated economy are at a standstill.

We are hoping you will consider this “Charter Boat Safety Plan” for Minnesota which would allow charter boats to begin operating much like they are in other states.  For the time being, charters in Minnesota could:

  • Have a guide and maximum of four customers who are staying together and part of the same group
  • Groups cannot be mixed on a charter boat
  • Require face masks or covering for all clients and customers
  • Conduct daily health assessments of employees and employers
  • Maintain good hygiene, social distancing and hand washing
  • Clean and sanitize workplaces often
  • Maintain social distancing practices

We believe we can provide safety at a greater level than many businesses already allowed to operate in Minnesota.

Currently, four people can stay in a cabin together, but not board a charter boat.  We believe it is actually safer to allow those same four people to board a charter boat and be out in the fresh air.

As you know, many people are allowed in grocery and big box stores.  Having a captain plus four on a large charter boat averaging 27’ to 30’ long and is 10’ wide with safety precautions in place, we believe is a very reasonable option.  In fact, it might be safer than a guide plus two on a 16’ to 18’ boat which is currently allowed.

The Lake of the Woods Area has lost much business since mid-March, losing two weeks of ice fishing, our spring fishing for walleyes on the Rainy River and then our sturgeon season.  Now, we are cutting into walleye season at the Walleye Capital of the World.

Every day that goes by, our area loses money, current fishing trips are being cancelled, future trips on the books are being cancelled and people that would normally be calling to book trips are not calling.  It is having a very negative impact on many.

We are desperately asking you to consider this proposed “Charter Boat Safety Plan’ and allow charter boats to start up in Minnesota.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED; Lake of the Woods County Board of Commissioners, is desperately asking you to consider this proposed “Charter Boat Safety Plan” and allow charter boats to start up in Minnesota.

Commissioners:  Ed Arnesen, Joe Grund, Cody Hasbargen, Buck Nordlof, Jon Waibel

Other Areas of Concern

  • Still no update on Lake of the Woods County’s bill regarding local sales tax.
  • Briefly talked about the CARES Act and how the funds would be distributed between cities and counties.
  • Soil and Water Conservation District requested to have their annual planning meeting in the Commissioners’ Room on June 8, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  The Commissioners all agreed that the meeting could be planned in the Commissioners’ Room, subject to change. 


With no further business before the Board, Chairman Jon Waibel called the meeting to recess at 9:40 a.m.

Attest: May 26, 2020

______________________________ _________________________________

County Auditor/Treasurer, Lorene Hanson Chairman of the Board, Jon Waibel