Welcome to Pennington County, Minnesota.

Welcome to Pennington County, Minnesota.

Welcome to Pennington County, Minnesota.

Welcome to Pennington County, Minnesota.

Welcome to Pennington County, Minnesota.

  • On August 20, 2021, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office joined the historic $26 billion multi-state settlement agreements with pharmaceutical distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. This settlement will bring more than $300 million to Minnesota counties and cities with an anticipated spending start date of August 1, 2022.

    Pennington County's expected portion of the settlement is $684,371.02


    Pennington County is committed to reducing the negative impacts associated with opioid use disorders by convening key sectors on an Advisory Council. The Opioid Settlement Advisory Council will guide the spending of National Opioid Settlement dollars to save lives and prevent further damage.

    • For more detailed background on the multi-district litigation (MDL), visit the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office – Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
    • Minnesota opioid related data can be found on Minnesota Department of Health’s opioid dashboard.The dashboard contains detailed information on overdose deaths, opioid-related hospital visits, the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed, the prevalence of substance use disorder, and more. 
    • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – endorsed by nearly 50 major organizations - created the Guiding Principles to ensure proper spending of opioid litigation funds;
      • Principle 1 - Spend the money to save lives.
      • Principle 2 - Use evidence to guide spending.
      • Principle 3 - Invest in youth prevention.
      • Principle 4 - Focus on racial equity.
      • Principle 5 - Develop a fair and transparent process for deciding where to spend the funding.
      • Download Opioid Principles PDF
    • According to the Minnesota Opioids State-Subdivision Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), the Public Health departments shall serve as the lead agency and Chief Strategist to identify, collaborate, and respond to local issues as Local Governments decide how to leverage and disburse Opioid Settlement Funds. In their role as Chief Strategist, public health departments will;
      • Convene multi-sector meetings
      • Lead efforts that build upon local efforts like Community Health Assessments and Community Health Improvement Plans
      • Foster community focused and collaborative evidence-informed approaches that prevent and address addiction across the areas of public health, human services, and public safety. 
      • Consult with municipalities located within their county in the development of any Community Health Assessment
      • Collaborate with law enforcement agencies in the county where appropriate.
    • The Council serves to advise the Pennington County Board of Commissioners as to how to most effectively, efficiently, and equitably spend the Opioid Settlement funds awarded. Informed by the MOA, the Council will both recommend the standards by which funds are spent as well as specific projects to be funded via a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. 
      • Ideal candidates to serve on the Opioid Settlement Advisory Council will;
        • Be open to learning and promoting best practices in opioid treatment, recovery, and prevention
        • Be champions of the work needing to be done and has the time to commit
        • Be familiar with the Request for Proposal (RFP) process
        • Help make decisions that guide how funding should be spent
        • Have a baseline understanding of the current work and data trends
      • Ideal sectors to be represented:
        • Legal Professional
        • Law Enforcement
        • Corrections
        • Public Health
        • Human Services
        • Treatment
        • Recovery (individual in recovery or recovery professional)
        • Board of Commissioners
        • Primary Care
        • Community of color and other communities affected by historical patterns of discrimination, such as Indigenous and LGBTQ+
        • Education
        • Community Member At Large (one per Commissioner district)
        • Addiction Medicine
        • Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
        • Local Municipality (city or township)
        • Veteran Services
        • Other
    FEBRUARY 28TH, 2023 – 10:00 A.M.

    Pursuant to adjournment, the Pennington County Board of Commissioners met in the
    Pennington County Justice Center Board Room in Thief River Falls, MN, on Tuesday,
    February 28th, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. Members Present: Seth Nelson, Bruce Lawrence, Roy
    Sourdif, and Neil Peterson. Members present via Zoom: David Sorenson (nonparticipating).

    The meeting was called to order by Chairman Peterson and the Pledge of Allegiance was

    The Chairman asked if there were any amendments to the agenda. The County
    Coordinator noted that Sarah Lefebvre and Kayla Jore of Community Strong have been
    added to the agenda at 10:15 a.m. Commissioner Lawrence motioned, seconded by
    Commissioner Sourdif, to approve the Board agenda with the change presented. Motion

    Recognition of Citizens: None.

    Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Nelson, to approve
    the Board of minutes of February 14th, 2023, as presented. Motion carried.

    Motioned by Commissioner Nelson, seconded by Commissioner Sourdif, to approve the
    Human Services warrants totaling $290,771.31 and the following Commissioner
    warrants. Motion carried.

    County Revenue $151,869.13
    Road & Bridge $ 62,119.96

    Human Services Director Julie Sjostrand presented the consent agenda from the February
    16th, 2023, Human Service Committee meeting. On a motion by Commissioner Sourdif
    and seconded by Commissioner Nelson, the following recommendations of the
    Pennington County Human Service Committee for February 16th, 2023 (detailed minutes
    on record) are hereby adopted:

    I. To approve the January 17, 2023, Human Service Committee Meeting

    II. To approve the Agency’s personnel action as presented.

    III. A. To approve the CY 2023-2024 Children’s Mental Health Screening
    State of Minnesota Department of Human Services County Grant Contract
    as presented.

    I. To approve payment of the Agency’s bills.

    Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sourdif, to accept the
    resignation of Full-Time Eligibility Worker Trey Kjono effective February 17th, 2023.
    Motion carried.

    Motioned by Commissioner Sourdif, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, to authorize
    the Human Services Director to advertise and interview for the position of Full-Time
    Eligibility Worker. Motion carried.

    Motioned by Commissioner Nelson, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, to accept the
    resignation of Family-Based Service Provider Katrina Fessler effective March 24th, 2023.
    Motion carried. Ms. Sjostrand noted this position is shared with Kittson County and will
    need to be discussed with them prior to a decision to advertise.

    County Sheriff Seth Vettleson met with the Board regarding the hire of a new employee.
    Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sourdif, to approve
    the hire of Sara Timm as Part-Time Corrections Officer, contingent upon a successful
    background check. Motion carried.

    Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Nelson, to authorize
    the County Sheriff to advertise for the positions of Corrections Officer and
    Dispatcher/Jailer. Motion carried.

    Sarah Lefebvre and Kayla Jore of Community Strong met with the Board and presented a
    program update. Ms. Lefebvre noted that they are taking over the ‘Be The Voice’ mental
    health awareness event and have lined up a speaker for the 2023 event. They expressed
    their appreciation to the Board for past financial support and asked if they would again be
    willing to be a sponsor for the event. Motioned by Commissioner Nelson, seconded by
    Commissioner Lawrence, to donate $5,000 to Community Strong in sponsorship of the
    ‘Be The Voice’ event in 2023. Motion carried.

    Assistant County Engineer Alex Bladow requested authorization for the County Engineer
    to advertise for bids for the following 2023 projects: road shouldering on the west side of
    the county, road striping on the east side of the county, and crack sealing in the center
    portion of the county. Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by
    Commissioner Sourdif, to authorize the County Engineer to advertise for the 2023
    projects as stated above. Motion carried.

    Mr. Bladow said they hope to have an update soon from Titan Machinery regarding the
    tractors we have on order.

    County Auditor-Treasurer Items: None.

    County Coordinator Items:

    Motioned by Commissioner Sourdif, seconded by Commissioner Lawrence, to approve
    the hire of Lucas Fornshell as Deputy Auditor-Accounting/Payroll Manager, with an
    effective start date of March 13th, 2023. Motion carried.

    Coordinator Erickson presented an update on the 3rd floor project at the Government
    Center. General demolition began on February 6th and resulted in the exposure of some
    asbestos-wrapped pipes. ACCT Inc. was able to come on short notice and wrap, cut, and
    remove approximately 150’ of pipe at an approximate cost of $4,000-$5,000. Mr.
    Erickson noted that an on-site meeting between the Building Committee, the general
    contractor, and the architect will be held during the week of March 6th to discuss the
    project, revisions needed, etc.

    Mr. Erickson discussed a prior overtime request for Deputy Assessor-Appraiser Ashley
    Benson that was referred to the Building Committee on February 14, 2023.
    Commissioner Lawrence stated that the Building Committee revised the request from a
    maximum of 150 hours to 120 hours to cover the period of March 1, 2023 - May 19,
    2023. Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Sourdif, to
    approve the request for overtime pay for Deputy Assessor-Appraiser Ashley Benson as
    stated above. Motion carried.

    The County Coordinator stated that MCIT has contracted with a company for appraisals
    of county-owned buildings, and they will be on site March 13th, 2023.
    Commissioner Lawrence questioned when we can expect the appliances for the newly
    remodeled 1st floor breakroom in the Government Center. The County Coordinator will
    reach out to Budget Appliance to check on the order status and when we can expect

    Motioned by Commissioner Lawrence, seconded by Commissioner Nelson, to approve
    the purchase of an ‘owl’ camera system in the amount of $1,049.00, as recommended by
    the Technology Committee and to be used in Meeting Room A of the Government
    Center. Motion carried.

    County Attorney Items: None.

    Committee Reports:

    Commissioner Peterson - the recent AMC Conference was changed from in-person to
    virtual Zoom due to inclement weather; a Northern Counties Land Use Board meeting
    will be held this Thursday in Grand Rapids; Minnesota Rural Counties (MRC) will host a
    Zoom meeting this coming Monday.

    The Board discussed upcoming legislative actions.
    Motioned by Commissioner Nelson, seconded by Commissioner Sourdif, to adjourn the
    Board meeting to March 14th, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. Motion carried.

    Kevin Erickson, County Coordinator

    Neil Peterson, Chairman
    Pennington County Board of Commissioners



  • Spring Cleanup Day!   

    All Pennington County and city residents may bring thier "junk" to Les's Sanitation, 1345 Hwy 32 S., Thief River Falls for disposal free of charge, excluding the following:

    • Regular rates apply for specialty waste such as tires, tv's, florescent bulbs, and items containing freon or mercury.

    Saturday May 6th, 2023  *  8am to 12 noon

    For questions or more information, call 218-681-7312.


    PDF flyer

  • Public Input Wanted as County
    Updates Hazard Mitigation Plan

    Pennington County residents, community leaders, business owners, area agencies and organizations now have an opportunity to share how severe weather events impact their property and lives. There is also an opportunity to share their ideas on how to reduce local impacts in the future.

    The Pennington County Office of Emergency Management is working with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota Duluth to update the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP). The plan assesses the natural hazards that pose risk to the county, such as tornadoes, straight line winds, ice storms, blizzards, wildfire, flooding, and extreme temperatures and identifies ways to minimize the damage of future events. As the county works to update the plan, it wants to hear from the public.

    The Pennington County HMP is a multi-jurisdictional plan that covers Pennington County, including the cities of Goodridge, St. Hilaire, and Thief River Falls. The Pennington County HMP also incorporates the concerns and needs of townships, school districts, and area agencies or organizations participating in the plan. The plan will be updated by a planning team made up of representatives from county departments, local municipalities, school districts and other key stakeholders. When completed, the plan will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for approval.

    “Hazard mitigation planning is a central part of our emergency management program,” said Erik Beitel, Pennington County Emergency Management Director. “Understanding the natural hazards that can cause serious impact to our communities and taking action to reduce or eliminate the impact of future disasters makes us more resilient. Hazard mitigation helps us to break the cycle of damage and repair caused by things like flooding, ice storms, and severe wind events that can damage property, stress economies, and threaten life safety in our county.”

    Examples of hazard mitigation include:

    • Conducting public outreach on severe weather awareness and preparedness
    • Limiting or restricting development in floodplain areas
    • Removing existing buildings from flood or erosion prone hazard areas
    • Using snow fences to limit blowing and drifting of snow over road corridors
    • Constructing tornado safe rooms in vulnerable areas such as mobile home parks
    • Burying overhead powerlines that may fail due to heavy snow, ice, or windstorms

    Some mitigation activities may be eligible for future FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant funding.

    Public input is an essential part of the plan update. As part of the planning process, Pennington County is seeking
    feedback from residents and businesses from across the county to incorporate into the plan:

    • What are the natural hazards you feel pose the greatest risk to your community?
    • What concerns do you have, and what sorts of actions do you feel would help to reduce damages of future hazard
    events in your community or the county as a whole?

    Comments, concerns, or questions regarding natural disasters and potential mitigation actions to be included into the plan
    update should be submitted to Pennington County Emergency Management by phone, email, or by posting a comment via
    a social media posting of this article.
    There will be additional opportunities for public feedback throughout the planning process. A draft of the plan will be
    made available for public review prior to submission of the plan to the State of Minnesota. Future news releases will be
    shared with the media to notify the public of these opportunities.

    The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) requires counties to update their plan every 5 years to maintain
    eligibility for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs.

    Erik Beitel
    Pennington County Emergency Management Director
    Phone: (218) 683-7087
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    PDF File


    ISD 564 (Thief River Falls) will be conducting a special election on November 7, 2023.
    ISD 561 (Goodridge) will be conducting a special election on November 7, 2023

    Pennington County Government Center
    Pennington County Auditor-Treasurer
    101 Main Avenue North
    Thief River Falls, MN 56701


    September 22 – November 6, 2023
    Normal Business Hours
    Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

    Additional Hours
    Saturday, November 4, 2023 - 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
    Monday, November 6, 2023 - 8:00 am – 5:00 pm