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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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County awarded blue ribbon

Fri, Sep 15th, 2006
Posted in Government

A 2006 Blue Ribbon County Award was presented to Fillmore County Social Services and the county board at the September 12 meeting. Barb Sorum, representing Prevent Child Abuse n Minnesota, told her story and that of the award. Twenty-three counties in Minnesota received the award. The award is given to counties for "excellent efforts in the prevention of child abuse and neglect."

Sorum explained that she has been with the organization for fourteen years and is herself a survivor of emotional, sexual, and physical child abuse. The 'blue' color of the blue ribbon is indicative of the 'black and blue' marks on an abused child. Barb Sorum is the mother of five grown children. She said that after the birth of her first child, she realized that she didn't know how to be a good Mom. Sorum emphasized that parents learn to parent by the way that they were parented. She sought help when her first child was two from a support group and therapy. There she learned that she was the product of several generations of abuse, a typical story. She needed to end the cycle.

Sorum's territory is all of southern Minnesota. She praised Fillmore County for doing a "fantastic job." Vicky Giese, a social worker, described a collaborative effort of four counties including Winona, Wabasha, Houston, and Fillmore. They encourage family group decision making, helping families get back the responsibility and the right to make decisions for their family with help from professionals. The process brings parents, extended family members and other "significant folks" together in one place at one time with a group facilitator. A plan is made for reunification with the emphasis on safety.

Giese stated that this program has been successful and has saved dollars for the county. The award is for the use and promotion of a service called "Family Group Decision Making."

Thomas Boyd requested and received approval for two new full time positions for his department, a financial worker and a child support officer. The new positions are needed because of an increased work load to process applications for Minnesota Care and to do added information gathering for child support. Legislation now requires income information on both parents. County Attorney Brett Corson suggested that the county attorney's office is also impacted by the more detailed information gathering process required. Corson said that the people in the Social Service Department do a good job recovering funds for child support.

Preliminary Budget Set

County Coordinator Karen Brown detailed the preliminary budget proposal for 2007. She noted that there will be a 2% decrease in the state levy support, but a 7% increase in intergovernmental grants both state and federal. Increases in electricity and transportation costs were a factor. The board approved the total $7,316,825 levy for Fillmore County for 2007, payable in 2008. The levy once set could go downward, but not upward. Chairman Duane Bakke suggested that no change is anticipated.

The percent increase is 5%, a half of percent lower than was projected by the coordinator. The five percent increase in dollars is $348,116. Last week the board had authorized up to $200,000 of money held in reserve to be used to balance the budget. However, only $135,000 of this money was actually needed.

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