At the March 22 Fillmore County Board meeting, Sarah Monroe, DFO Victim Services; Laura Nauman, Women’s Shelter; and Andrea White, Regional Safe Harbor Navigator, asked the board to consider proclaiming April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Monroe noted Sexual Assault Awareness Month was first observed nationally in 2001. It is an effort to bring further awareness of sexual assault. It also honors victims and survivors of sexual assault, which is widespread. The teal ribbons which will be on light poles in Preston are a visual reminder. In 2021 Victim Services of Dodge, Fillmore, and Olmsted Counties served nearly 650 victims/survivors of sexual violence.
Most victims of sexual assault never report to law enforcement. We all can improve how we respond to survivors; we can start by believing and supporting victims/survivors.
White noted preventative and educational efforts have been made by Victims Services for the last 30 years. These have been expanded in the last five years. The educational curriculum provided in schools has received positive feedback from both students and educators.
The board unanimously approved the proclamation and the several events planned during the month.
2021 Tax Forfeiture Sales
On March 1, the county auctioned off Tax Forfeited Properties. Twelve properties were included in the auction. Auditor/Treasurer Christy Smith said there was a good turnout for the auction, about 40 people. Nine properties sold at auction and the other three sold within a week. The total of all sales was $67,800 which was enough to pay back taxes and some special assessments, but not all outstanding penalties/interest/fees. Spring Valley wrote off one very large special assessment. About 20%, or $12,270, is set aside for Fillmore County Parks. The rest is divided (less sales costs and special assessments) between the county (40%), the school district (40%), and cities/townships (20%), where the properties are located.
Other business in brief
• Katie Drewitz, the new Extension educator for Agriculture Production Systems in Fillmore and Houston Counties, introduced herself during the Citizens Input portion of the meeting. She will be splitting her time between the two counties. She grew up on her family’s farm outside of Fountain. She said she is looking forward to bringing new programming into the area.
• The low bid submitted by Fahrner Asphalt Sealers LLC in the amount of $675,951.58 was approved for the 2022 Seal Coat Program. The engineer’s estimate was significantly higher at $794,349.63.
The low bid submitted by Griffin Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of $307,902.32 was approved for the reconstruction of CSAH 36 (from the bridge to the Pie Shop) in the city of Whalan. The engineer’s estimate for the project was $328,743.00. This work is scheduled for the fall.
• After some discussion the second reading of the Telecommuting Policy was approved (4-1, Marc Prestby voted no). Commissioner Prestby explained government is there to serve the public; he didn’t think that can be done from home. Additional language added to the existing policy will give a department head the authority to allow an employee, who is not in a telecommuting agreement, to work from home on limited occasions. Some Social Service employees, eligibility workers, have been working from home efficiently under a telecommuting agreement for a few years.
• Kallee Nelson was hired as a Public Health accounting tech, effective April 19.
• Dallas Dornink was hired as the Zoning/Feedlot Oofficer, effective April 11.
• A draft agreement contract with BKV Group was provided. County Administrator Bobbie Hillery called it a contract within a contract. It will be reviewed by county attorney Brett Corson and brought back for the board’s consideration at their April 5 meeting.
• 2022 technology budgeted projects that had been approved in 2021 were again approved. Hillery said they ran out of funds in 2021 and pushed the purchases to 2022. Approved purchases will include a security camera replacement in the passport area, a badge reader for inside the Public Health interior door (plus installation), additional license for badges/door software, and five laptops and docking stations. The total cost for the technology equipment listed is about $20,850.