Chairman Severson called the February 14 Houston County Commission meeting to order at 9 a.m. and led his fellow commissioners and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioners unanimously approved the meeting agenda with the addition of one action item and the minutes from the February 7 regular board meeting.
All five board members were in attendance: Chairman Dewey Severson, Eric Johnson, Robert (Bob) Burns, Bob Schuldt, and Greg Myhre.
The Collaborative Design Group (CDG) presented three design options as part of the county’s space utilization study. The study is looking at ways to optimize the space in three county-owned buildings – Historic Courthouse, Justice Center, and the Community Services Building. CDG staff Johona Harris and Tamara Wylie emphasized that these are preliminary plans and the presentation is a progress report.
Harris and Wylie first reviewed the project’s four guiding principles: optimize the use of the county-owned buildings; provide a central location for county-supplied services; enhance and improve the public and client experience; and optimize space use and daily efficiency for staff.
CDG gathered data by interviewing all department heads and identifying the future needs of the county. For example, based on the interviews, the number of employees is expected to increase a total of nine staff members within five years.
Commissioners are looking at ways to move the public health department offices from the Community Services building to the historic courthouse so all the department’s offices are located in one building. They are also looking at suitable space that could accommodate the needs of Veterans Services and Extension, thus, allowing the county to option of selling the Community Services Building. Commissioner Burns noted that selling the Community Services Building would add it on the tax rolls.
Root River Soil and Water Conservation (SWCD) District Manager Dave Walter explained that resolution 23-07 states that the county will become a partner and implement the Mississippi River – Winona/La Crescent (WinLaC) watershed management plan. “It mirrors what Mary does for the Root River watershed management plan,” said Walter. “It is a much smaller area than the Root River. There are 10 partners involved, four counties (Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona), four Soil and Water Conservation districts (Olmsted, Root River, Wabasha County, and Winona County), the City of Winona, and Stockton-Rollingstone-Minnesota City watershed district.” There are about 480,000 acres in the watershed. The board unanimously approved both the resolution and the joint powers agreement.
The county budgeted $114,075.00 for bridge maintenance in 2023. Commissioners approved the $117,100.00 quote from ICON Constructions LLC. County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski explained that the contract includes surface finishing, rehabbing deflection joints, sandblasting, priming, and painting. The bridges scheduled for maintenance in 2023 include 28512, 28538, 28530, 28531, 28510, and 28515.
In other business, the board:
•Approved changing Lee Langager from B-21 Step 4 to B-22 Step 4, effective February 15, 2023;
•Approved changing Nancy Welsh from 0.7 FTE to 0.8 FTE, effective immediately;
•Approved changing Ben Novak’s assignment from lead jailer/dispatcher (Sergeant) to 0.55 jailer dispatcher effective February 26, 2023. There are no plans at this time to fill the position;
•Accepted the Winona County-Houston County professional services inter-county agreement for emergency feedlot services. Houston County will provide assistance on incoming and emergency calls;
•Established an absentee ballet board for the 2023 township election. It was noted that this is the only election this year.
Chairman Severson called to adjourn the meeting at 11:43 a.m.
The next regularly scheduled Houston County Commission meeting is Tuesday, February 28, 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.