New after-school program offers snacks, lessons, crafts

NEW ULM – Brown County commissioners learned Tuesday about a new University of Minnesota Extension/4-H program that promotes healthy snacks and teaches Comfrey grade school children about science and crafts after school.

Extension Service Community Nutrition Educator Jan Simonson teaches third through sixth-grade students about good nutrition and healthy snacks before they learn about science-related topics and crafts that could be exhibited at the fair or as a community service project, according to the Extension Activities update.

The report was presented by Regional Extension Service Director Nathan Crane, Program Coordinator Alisa Mangen and Extension Support Staffer Brynn Mathiowetz. Future plans include exploring opportunities at the Springfield food shelf.

Mangen said there were 182 Brown County youth involved in Brown County 4-H at the county fair last fall and 184 now, 32 of which are first-year members.

“We have a new exchange program with Pennsylvania 4-H and FFA members,” Mangen said. “They come here and learn about our programs and we go there to learn about theirs.”

The Brown County Nutrition Program reached 986 participants from Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012, according to the update.

Commissioners approved:

Short-Term Disability (STD) and Long-Term Disability (LTD) insurance rates for Brown County employees that will remain the same for 2013 as they were last year.

Late last year, Ochs Inc. of St. Paul, the administrator for Brown County STD and LTD, informed Brown County Human Resources that the 2012 carrier, Assurant, would be increasing 2013 rates by 20 percent, according to a Request for Board Action (RBA).

After being told to see if it could find a carrier that would offer a plan with the same coverage with less of a cost increase, Ochs Inc. found a carrier, (Madison National), which would match the plan and maintain rates.

Commissioner Scott Windschitl said there should be a bid process for the disability insurance.

“This sounds good, but I think there is other insurance available, including local agencies that could bid for this at less cost,” Windschitl said. “I’ll approve this now, but whenever we get an increased rate notice, it should be out for bids. You have to be careful with language too. Some companies add their own language to policies.”

County Administrator Chuck Enter said short-term disability insurance is offered as a county benefit while long-term disability insurance is optional, at employee cost.

Windschitl and Commissioner Andy Lochner reported on their meeting with Judge Robert Docherty regarding rising human services costs.

“Serious offenders we have are driving up costs,” Windschitl said. “We talked about Chippewa County’s Circle Program that showed that juveniles at risk greatly improved their behavior by becoming involved in extra-curricular activities like sports, chorus and debate. Free activity passes were given to K-8 students and sports fees were paid for K-12 needy students.”

Lochner said he appreciated the judge’s interest in the issue that included 90 minutes of his time. Windschitl said the judge will discuss the issue with Brown County Family Services.

The board set bidding dates for work on three road segments that are in poor condition and are 20-22 years old. Their design life is 20 years.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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