The Houston County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, November 23, from 9:02-10:54 a.m. in the historic county courthouse in downtown Caledonia. Commissioners present included Dewey Severson, Eric Johnson, Chairman Bob Burns, Teresa Walter, and Greg Myhre.
Chairman Burns led the commissioners and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The meeting agenda was unanimously approved with the addition of three added items to the consent agenda. In addition, the board approved the minutes from the November 9 meeting and the November 16 workgroup.
Librarian Elizabeth Gibson-Gasset, Houston Public Library, appeared before the commissioners. Gibson-Gasset explained that she was attending the commission meeting because the group of librarians had heard that some of the commissioners were on the fence about signing the 2022 contract with the group. She then reiterated the facts and numbers presented by the five Houston County libraries (La Crescent, Houston, Spring Grove, Caledonia, Hokah) at the April 27, 2021, commission meeting. Chairman Burns clarified for the commissioners and Gibson-Gasset that $20,000 is already included in next year’s budget, with a one-year contract.
At 9:30 a.m., a public hearing was held to discuss the county’s MS4 permit. City Engineer Brian Pogodzinski first mentioned that the permit is required. After Chairman Burns noted that there was no one from the public waiting to address the commission, commissioners went back into the regular meeting and approved the permit.
The county’s Veteran Services office received a cash donation of $150.00 from the Brownsville VFW.
Commissioner Walter explained that she participated in her first labor contract grievance. The grievance was dated October 1, 2021. After four hours, AFSCME and Houston County arrived at a settlement that was agreeable to both parties. Accordingly, commissioners approved the Stipulated Mediated Settlement.
The commissioners approved Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) Biennial Service Agreement 2022-2023. Public Health Director John Pugleasa explained that the agreement is required for the administration of the MFIP. The 2022 contract includes $188,585 which is $5,000 more than the county received last year. The biennial agreement with the state ensures that the county is doing what they are supposed to do. Currently, the county is serving 53 families under the grant with most of the funds going to Workforce Development Inc. (WDI). According to the organization’s website, WDI is a private, nonprofit agency dedicated to developing and advancing the workforce of Southeast Minnesota through career pathways and more. In addition, clients must agree to transfer to employment. Clients do not have to pay for WDI’s services.
Commissioners approved the Title IV-D cooperative agreement. Pugleasa explained that this agreement is required and addresses the roles of Human Services, County Attorney, and Sheriff’s Office in the Child Support program.
Environmental Services Director Amelia Meiners asked the commissioners to approve the Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement with the Water and Soil Resources Board for shoreland, SSTS, water plan, and wetland funds. It was noted that this agreement is for two years instead of one year. The agreement was approved.
Pogodzinski presented two new change orders for the new highway facilities, numbers 32 and 33, for the commissioners’ approval plus number 25 which was approved at a previous commission meeting and has been revised. All three change orders were approved.
The total dollar amount for number 32 is $5,934.54 and pays for additional curb and gutter on Washington St., curb and gutter near the transformer area, and concrete reduction near the electrical transformer gas area. The purpose of these changes is to keep water away from the building site.
Change order number 33 will cover the cost to purchase additional insulation which will be added to fill the void space between the roof sheets and existing insulation. Pogodzinski explained that there would not be any additional cost for labor to install the additional insulation because all the insulation will be added at the same time. The total price is $8,888, which will come out of the highway facilities’ contingency fund.
The revised change order request is for water and electric service for the pressure washer and wash bay at the new highway facility. “The price of materials listed in the original Change Order No. 25 increased before the board approved it. The price was not locked in. As a result, the cost of materials went up $700,” Pogodzinski explained.
Chairman Burns asked commissioners if they had any problems with the proposed bike race or route. The Saturday event will take place in either April or early May. The only problem the county engineer mentioned is the possibility of road construction which would impact the race route. Currently, there is not any construction scheduled. Pogodzinski assured commissioners that the organizers will provide everything related to directional signage. The county will take the sweeper out prior to the event and clean the curves and intersections of gravel on the route. Organizers are expecting 300 people for the one-day event.
The next meeting of the Houston County Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, at 9 a.m. in 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 meeting ID: 994-7297-7175 and password 368422. The public is invited to attend.