Commissioners present at the first commission meeting of 2021 were: Dewey Severson, Eric Johnson, Robert Burns, Teresa Walter, and Greg Myhre.
Chairperson pro tem, Allison Wagner, board clerk, called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m.
Congratulations to Robert Burns and Greg Myhre on their election as the County’s Board Chair and Vice-Chair.
The Board approved the agenda as written.
The Commission unanimously approved the minutes from the December 22, 2020, board meeting. The minutes from the Commission’s workgroup session on December 22, 2020, were approved with Chairman Burns’ suggested adjustments.
Burns asked for any public comment. Hearing none, the commissioner moved on to the COVID-19 update from Houston County Public Health director, John Puglease and supervisor, Heather Myhre.
Puglease mentioned that constituents are contacting Public Health, wondering when they can get the vaccine and where. Residents are encouraged to contact their health care provider first. Each county is getting a minimal amount of vaccine and is following the priorities as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Priorities are 1. Health care providers, 2. Long-term care residents, 3. Long-term care staff, and 4. EMS providers.
The county started providing vaccines last week, starting with priority 1A. The state thinks it will be March before all individuals in 1A will have received their shots.
Commissioners asked Myhre how many shots have been given out in Houston County. She estimated about 40-50 shots.
The county has five nurses and is using trained volunteers to administer shots. Everyone in health care has not received the vaccine, and those giving shots have received the shot.
Puglease promised that board “we will do everything in our power to ensure our residents have the vaccine.”
The county sees equitable shipping across counties and the state. There are two vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold refrigeration, making it challenging to distribute equitable because not everyone has the equipment necessary to store it safely. The second vaccine, Moderna, does not require ultra-cold refrigeration and is being distributed equitable across the state.
Puglease completed his presentation by acknowledging the work of his staff. The pandemic is the most challenging time he has seen throughout his career. Puglease shared that his staff has “stepped up to the plate and gone above and beyond.”
Puglease emphasized how grateful he is for the commissioners’ support. “Thank you for your work and your support of us. It cannot be overstated.”
The sealed bids for the 2021 Official Newspaper were open and recorded. The County received two bids, one from the Caledonia Argus and one from the Fillmore County Journal. The Fillmore County Journal bid was $2 per column inch, and the Caledonia Argus bid per column inch ranges from $8.20 – $9.00 an inch, depending on the category. The item was tabled until next week so the county can obtain the answers to their questions.
The board approved the Consent Agenda except for Resolution 21-05 Official 2021 Newspaper was approved. The board thanked Gary Massman for his service to the county.
Unanimously approved the appointment of Wayne Runningen, Kenneth Anderson, and Larry Hafner to the Board of Adjustment for a three-year term ending December 31, 2023.
Unanimously approved the appointment of Edward Hammell and Larry Hafner to the Planning Commission members for a three-year term ending December 31, 2023.
Unanimously approved the Guardianship Contracts Human Services – John Miller, Anne Yakle, Gregory Yakle, and Frederick Guardianship Services, LLC. The county pays $120 a month for each guardian.
Unanimously approved the Houston County Collaborative Governance Agreement.
Unanimously approved the Abatement for Davison Properties, LLC., Hokah, Minn., and Barton Heintz, Caledonia, Minn.
Unanimously approved the purchase of a John Deere track loader from SEMA Equipment.
Unanimously approved 2021 Commissioner Committee Assignments as discussed.
The past and new chairman did not have any board updates. Not all the committees met over the last two weeks due to the holiday season, so there are no reports this month.
The commissioners discussed the letter received from the City of La Crescent City Council regarding property values not being corrected in a timely manner and improving communications between both entities. Commissioner Walter will follow up with La Crescent.
The Board Schedule Changes will remain as presented. Board meetings will be held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 9:30 a.m.
Based on the comments from each of the commissioners and staff, monthly department head meetings are beneficial. All agreed that one meeting with rotating two commissioners works. Staff will put together a schedule and present it to the commissioners next week.
Commissioner Johnson reported that the water meeting is now every other every month.
The commissioners also discussed the recycling center in Houston and the convenience car at the airport. Further discussion is required.
Being no public comment, it was closed. The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.
The commissioners scheduled an additional board meeting and the workshop session for January 12, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with Resolution 20-20 Emergency Declaration, the board will conduct this meeting remotely. The public may attend by using the following connection: (312) 626-6799, meeting ID 98040449407, password 398904.
The next regular meeting of the Houston County Commissioners is Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 a.m. The public is invited to dial in. Contact Donna Trehus, (507) 725-5803 to be included in remote meetings.