Houston County Commissioners approved switching from the Bank of the West to Merchants Bank at the November 22 commission meeting.
Chairman Greg Myhre called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. He led commissioners and guests in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioners in attendance include Chairman Myhre, Teresa Walter, Robert (Bob) Burns, Eric Johnson, and Dewey Severson.
The commissioners unanimously approved the meeting’s agenda, the November 8 minutes, and the minutes from the November 15 workgroup session.
Houston County Ag Society Fair Manager Emily Johnson, as in years pasts, asked the commissioners to approve an additional $4,000 for the fair. “Overall, we did all right this year. We are still doing a little bit of rebounding off the COVID stuff.” The carnival rides were canceled six weeks before the fair forcing the board to scramble and rent bouncy houses. The board intermingled the vendor stands with the bouncy houses so parents could shop while the kids played. She continued explaining, “The grandstand made money for us this year. Not huge, but we were not upside down in any of them.”
Incoming sheriff, Brian Swedberg and Sheriff Mark Inglett appeared before the commissions to answer commissioners’ questions regarding the Sentence to Serve (STS) program. Burns explained that the STS program is not in the 2023 budget. If the county is going to continue offering the program in 2023, it needs to be added to the budget before December 28. Finance Director Carol Lapham confirmed that there is a 30-day cancellation clause. Commissioner asked that it be added to the next meeting agenda in order to make a final decision.
The consent agenda was approved with one addition, the mediated settlement between the county and Amelia Meiners for $1,606.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the fair board’s request for an additional $4,000;
• Approved the FY 2023 Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) SSTS grants; $18,600 septic treatment systems and the $33,418 septic treatment systems upgrade;
• Approved the county Veterans Service Office operational enhancement grant. This is an annual request.
Plans are in the works for the January 2023 swearing-in ceremony. Finance Director Carol Lapham explained that the first day of employment for the new sheriff is the first Monday in January, according to state statute. Lapham asked if the swearing-in ceremony would occur on the first Monday or Tuesday of the month since Monday is a holiday. Commissioner Burns will confirm with the judge whether the swearing-in ceremony will occur on Monday or Tuesday.
Commissioner Walter reported that she worked the election. “In La Crescent Township we had 520 voters and the poll pads worked wonderful. We really appreciated them.”
Commissioner Severson and Environmental Services Director Martin Herrick will be attending the upcoming La Crosse Harbor Commission meeting. Herrick informed the commission that he attended a meeting with Jay Squire, the Assistant Attorney General, and Counsel for DNR noting that their position has softened a little from what it was originally was but they still maintain that they need to be like what they have in Wisconsin. Herrick spoke with the Harbor Commission and learned that there is a no-wake zone on the other side of the river, “It is a 100’ no-wake zone in developed areas.”
The commission went into closed meeting at 10:42 a.m. pursuant to Minnesota Statue 13D.05, Subdivision 3, for an employee’s end-of-probation review. The commission returned from the closed session at 11:50 a.m. Human Resources Director Tess Kruger gave a summary of the closed session. Commissioners discussed the environmental services director. No official decisions were made, and the board’s general consensus was to extend the meeting to December 13.
The next regularly scheduled Houston County Commission meeting is Tuesday, December 13 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.