Mike Tenney, DNR, and Robert McGillvray, The Trust for Public Land, faced commissioners at their January 23 meeting to ask them for a third time to consider a land acquisition of 337 acres from the Larson Family Trust.
The land is to be added to the Choice Wildlife Management Area. It straddles Norway and Preble Townships. Tenney said we now propose to single out about 42 acres of tillable land and exclude these acres from the project. Originally, the ask was for the entire 379 acres owned by the family trust. In large part the objection to the land acquisition, previously, has been the inclusion of tillable farm land.
Outdoor Heritage Funds will be used primarily to purchase the land. The DNR will also contribute Reinvest in Minnesota funding when the land is transferred to the DNR. Within the total 379 acres there is 72 acres of farmable land which is not currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (42 acres) or being used as a buffer strip (27 acres).
Tenney said he expects most of the current agricultural land still included in the acquisition will be converted for wildlife habitat; some could be managed for food plots leaving standing corn for winter.
Commissioner Duane Bakke asked about a piece of property with some buildings. Tenney said the buildings may add value to the 42 tillable acres being split off.
Bakke called this a good compromise. The resolution for the proposed land acquisition of 337 acres was approved. Chairman Mitch Lentz voted no.
Commissioner Randy Dahl conceded that land for recreation was important, in his comments after the land acquisition was approved. However, he noted there are 30 licensed police officers in this area and only one game warden. He insisted one is not enough. The DNR is managing more and more acres with way too few personnel. Bordering private property owners have to deal with trespassers; invasive plants and trees get out of control when crews are not there to manage the land. Dahl wants legislators to consider the need for more personnel.
County Engineer Ron Gregg requested and received approval for the purchase of three 2018 pickups. These purchases were budgeted for 2018. Two half-ton pickups will be purchased on the state bid from Midway Ford: half-ton super cab for $27,962.92 and half-ton crew cab for $30,354.92. A one-ton regular cab will be purchased from Ranger Chevrolet for $30,071.20; equipment including aluminum box will be purchased for $15,648.
The 2018 Bridge Replacement Priority list was approved. All townships were solicited to allow them to make a request for a particular bridge.
A Snow Removal Policy was approved with modifications. Gregg said the policy clarifies how we address snow issues. Brent Kohn assured the board that they will continue to operate as they have in the past. The policy will be available to the public on the county’s website.
As part of an ongoing process to comply with the Department of Corrections inspection requirements, Sheriff Tom Kaase requested approval of the purchase and installation of six combination toilet/sinks in the cell block. A quote from Southeast Mechanical, Inc. to replace the toilet and sink fixtures with the combination fixtures, to cover the existing wall with stainless steel paneling, and to do the necessary plumbing was approved. Each unit and installation costs $4,750, or a total of $28,500 for the six units.
Bakke asked if the purchase was included in the sheriff’s 2018 budget. Kaase said it wasn’t. Bakke chastened Kaase for needing to dip into reserves to pay for the toilet/sink units, something that needs to be done, this early in the 2018 budget year.
Kaase introduced Winona State University student Daniel Thorson. The board approved an unpaid internship for Thorson. The sheriff’s office has had an intern from Winona State for years. Thorson is a Fillmore County resident (Rushford), is a member of the National Guard (combat medic), and is a junior in the criminal justice program at Winona State. Thorson noted he has had an interest in law enforcement since middle school. He will earn 12 credits for his 480 hours with the county.
Other business in brief
• The purchase of equipment for payment processing at a cost of $15,519 was approved. Carrie Huffman said the purchase was budgeted for 2018. It will cut the time needed to process tax payments in half.
• A contract with the Government Management Group for 2017-2019 was approved for Cost Allocation Plans. There is a fixed fee of $5,100 per year.
• Legislators will be at the February 13 board meeting to discuss 2018 Fillmore County Legislative Priorities.
• Approval to pay 2018 premiums to MCIT was given: $102,188 for Workman’s Compensation and $136,434 for Property/Liability. These payments are budgeted on an annual basis.
• Approval was given for the Marco quote for Phase II of the switch replacement for Information Systems. The one time payment of $54,728.26 was in the 2018 budget.
• County Recorder David Kiehne reviewed the certification of compliance with recording requirements report for 2017 as required by state statute. The report was approved, as were projected expenditures from allocated and unallocated accounts for expenses related to land records.
• Linda Logsdon, RN, was promoted to Public Health Nurse effective January 26.
• A one time deposit of 80 hours of PTO to Coordinator/Auditor/Treasurer Bobbie Vickerman was approved for her additional responsibilities. Vickerman did not ask for the compensation, but it has been the norm to offer compensation for extra duties and responsibilities. Commissioner Marc Prestby voted against.
• The EEO/Affirmative Action policy was approved as edited. Final approval was given for the amended Paid Time Off (PTO) policy. Kohn said no one will loose PTO through this process.
• The Purchase of Service Agreement with Families Services Rochester for Family Engagement Strategies was approved. Kevin Olson said the four year contract is the same as last year, no change in cost.
Telecommuting agreements with Denise Zwart and Jessica Bergsgaard as recommended by social services manager Olson were renewed.