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Pierce County's drug court moved closer to becoming a regular county program Monday evening. The county board's finance and personnel committee voted to consolidate drug court funds into a single 2006 budget, to approve the drug court coordinator position description, and to authorize posting and hiring to fill the job. Pierce County's drug court was established in the fall of 2004 as a pilot program. The coordinator job was filled by an AmeriCorps member assigned to the human services department.
The number of Pierce County children who've committed serious offenses, especially sex offenses, in the last year is extraordinary for a county this size and the cost will be staggering. The count is over twice what his department expected and will cost the county about $500,000 more than planned, said Human Services Director Reggie Bicha. So far this year, Pierce County has 16 juveniles who have gone through juvenile court and are in custody for committing serious crimes.
During their meeting Tuesday, Pierce County Board members voted to transfer $81,751 from the General Fund to cover a 2005 deficit in the sheriff's department budget. Last year, the department spent $60,229 more than budgeted for overtime pay and $35,090 more than budgeted for gasoline.
The Pierce County Board voted last week to endorse a committee plan directing department heads to prepare 2007 budgets that show how their department's local tax levy spending can be cut 15 percent. The departments are to also show the impact of potential cuts.
Two more people have announced their candidacy for Pierce County offices, nearly assuring primary elections for two positions. The most recent candidates are Gordon Borner, a licensed real estate agent who registered as a candidate for county treasurer, and Tom Gunderson, a patrol sergeant who registered as a candidate for sheriff. Borner is among three Republican candidates for treasurer. Gunderson (see related story) is one of two Democratic candidates for sheriff. Borner, W6575 630th Ave., Beldenville, farmed for over 20 years in the Town of El Paso.
In an attempt to get control of the 2007 funding process from the start, Pierce County's finance committee voted Monday night to direct each department to prepare a plan to cut its budget 15 percent. Each department is to set internal priorities, offering cuts in areas less important to the department. The plan must also include an analysis of the impact of the cuts.
Two women have announced their candidacies for Pierce County treasurer. Both Tami R. Langer, N5640 670th St., Ellsworth, and Fay C. Owen, 1901 140th Ave., Maiden Rock, are running as Republicans. Lee Skog, who has been treasurer for the last 12 years, said he will not seek re-election. Skog, who turns 68 this summer, is retiring. Langer, a lifelong resident of Pierce County, has a background in banking and finance. A graduate of Ellsworth High School, she began working for M&I Bank right after graduation.
Christy Spindler spreads the pictures on the table. The four young people smile out at her, looking full of life and full of promise. All were Wisconsin residents, all were college students, all died within 18 months of one another, and all died of bacterial meningitis. The young man on the left is Spindler's son Erik, a junior at UW-River Falls. He died Nov. 11, 2002. Another list records six other University of Wisconsin System students stricken with meningitis earlier in 2002.
Winning $50,000 was the first step. Now, 45 Pierce County Highway Department employees are going to court to get separate checks for their shares. The 45 have asked a judge to declare they each have an equal interest in the prize and each is entitled to an equal share.
Concern about property tax levy limits and, apparently in some cases dissatisfaction with the sheriff, led Pierce County supervisors last week to limit pay raises for elected officials. The resolution on the May 23 County Board agenda would have given 2.5% raises to the clerk of court, county clerk, register of deeds, treasurer and sheriff in 2007 and 2008.