Houston County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, May 24, from 9-10:12 a.m. at the historic county courthouse in downtown Caledonia.
Commissioners in attendance include Chairman Greg Myhre, Teresa Walter, Robert (Bob) Burns, Eric Johnson, and Dewey Severson.
Chairman Myhre called the meeting to order and led commissioners and the public in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioners approved the May 24 meeting agenda, removing item number one from the consent agenda, the May 10 meeting minutes, and the May 17 workgroup session minutes.
Before the commission, Chris Smith, chief operating officer of Riverside and Northern Grain Belt Port Statistical Area (PSA) project manager, appeared to explain the Northern Grain Belt Port Statistical Area initiative and ask for the county’s support. The Northern Grain Belt Port Statistical Area covers 11 riverfront counties, including Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona, Houston County in Minnesota, and the following Wisconsin counties – Pierce, Pepin, Buffalo, Trempealeau, La Crosse, Vernon, and Crawford. The plan is to have all 11 signed county resolutions by June 28, 2022. Smith confirmed that there is no cost to the county. Smith summarized by stating, “It is counties coming together to say that we wish to form this statistical area for the sole purpose of accounting for statistical data.” The resolution is on the commission’s June 7 agenda.
The board approved a request from Personnel Director Tess Kruger to change Deputy Sheriff Travis Lapham’s employment status from probationary to regular and accept the resignation of Michael Johnson, probationary jailer/dispatcher. In addition, commissioners approved Kruger’s request to initiate a competitive search for a probationary jailer/dispatcher.
Commissioners approved changing Lauren Felten’s temporary/casual employee tech clerk I B-21, Step 1 of the 2022 non-represented pay grid, effective May 25, 2022. Kruger noted that Ms. Felten has been employed since April 1, 2019.
The 2022 Federal Boat and Water grant was approved for $5,000. The contract states that the supplementary funds from the state are to cover the cost of additional boating safety patrol of lakes and rivers in the county.
John Pugleasa, Public Health director, recommended that commissioners approve the rate increase from $120 to $138 per month in the existing agreements with Virgie Rud and Renata Luedtke for guardianship services.
The commission approved the maintenance and grooming applications from The Viking Ridge Riders, Gopherland Trails, Houston Money Creek Snowmobile Club, and La Crescent Snowmobile Club.
The board approved liquor licenses for Ferndale Golf, Ma Cal Grove Country Club, Valley High Golf Club (pending submission of required paperwork), Shellhorn Roadhouse, Little Miami, Pine Creek Golf Course, Lawrence Lake Marina, La Crescent Snowmobile Club, Pine Creek Golf Course, Gopher State Sportsmans Club, and Houston Food Mart for July 1, 2022, to June 20, 2023.
Brian Pogodzinski explained that the county renews the master partnership contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for material testing and other services every five years, noting that it is a standard agreement. Pogodzinski said that he reviewed the document, as did the county accountant and Attorney Jandt. As a result, the contract and resolution were unanimously approved.
Houston County Environmental Services Director Martin Herrick and Environmental Specialist Amelia Meiners submitted two permit applications from Mathy Construction Company, Onalaska, Wis. The planning commission recommended approval for both permits. In addition, the board approved the interim use permit for a temporary asphalt plant in an agricultural protection district, Gengler Quarry in Mayville Township, to accommodate County State Aid Highway (CSAH) projects with all six recommended conditions. The board also approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for industrial use in the shoreland overlay district with the six listed conditions.
Carol Lapham, finance director, confirmed that the county has not allocated all its ARPA funds from the first round of funds.
The next regularly scheduled Houston County Commission meeting is Tuesday, June 7, at 9 a.m. in the County Commission Board Room 222, located on the second floor in the Historic County Courthouse, Caledonia, or via the county conference call line (312) 626-6700 enter ID: 994-7297-7175 and password 368422. Public attendees are requested to mute their line until addressed.