April 12, 2017 10:38 PM
A Chisago County Commissioner seriously injured in a two-car crash on Interstate 35 near Rush City last month is slowly showing improvement
The husband of Lora Walker posted on her Caring Bridge page, thanking people for their messages. He said his wife is now starting rehabilitation treatment following multiple surgeries and severe injuries sustained in the March 11 collision.
The Minnesota State Patrol said Wisconsin resident Doug Briskey died after his vehicle was struck head-on by Walker's car, which investigators said was driving in the wrong direction.
The crash is still being investigated.
Meanwhile, Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Walker's four colleagues on the county board are chipping in and covering her duties, including constituent services.
"Commissioner Walker represents District 1, which has about 12,000 people and everyone has put compassion first, with constituent services and day-to-day county operations second because no one wanted this to happen," Messelt said.
"It is just a terrible accident."
"There are no politics when something like this happens, because Lora Walker is a friend and colleague and commissioners are working hard to make sure the important business of the county gets done," he added. "But their first concern is that Commissioner Walker get better and that her family has the support it needs right now."
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found similar challenges faced recently in other counties where there was an absence for an extended period of time. Stearns County Commissioner Donald Otte was out for a lengthy period before he died in 2013 and Washington County Commissioner Ted Bearth was absent for an extended period before he died in 2016.
Washington County Administrator Molly O'Rourke said the four commissioners who served with Bearth did the same thing Chisago County commissioners are doing now.
"It was hard on all of us with Ted Bearth's death, and it was a group effort to make sure the people who voted for him still had their interests represented," O'Rourke said.
"That was a big job because he had about 50,000 constituents that he represented."
There is a bill before the state legislature that would give county governments faced with a long-term absence more flexibility in filling those vacancies until a special election.
Right now, an interim appointment can only be made if a county board member misses 90 consecutive days of work.
Updated: April 12, 2017 10:38 PM
Created: April 12, 2017 08:52 PM
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