All districts were again represented at the August 27 meeting of the Fillmore County board of commissioners. Newly elected Larry Hindt, representing the third district, was sworn in last week by Judge Matthew Opat.
More budget proposals for 2020 were reviewed. Departmental budgets reflect salary increases of 2.5% and health insurance increases of 7.5%. The preliminary 2020 budget will be considered later in September. The final budget and levy will be considered in December.
Veterans Treatment Court
County Attorney Brett Corson discussed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the operation of the Third District Veteran’s Treatment Court (VTC). The memorandum is between county attorneys in the third judicial district (Dodge, Freeborn, Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, and Winona Counties).
The VTC will be held in two locations: Owatonna/Steele County (west) and Preston/Fillmore County (east). Fillmore and Steele County attorneys are willing to appear at VTC sessions. Corson will appear on behalf of eastern counties if requested. The ultimate decision will be made by the county attorney where the case originated. Corson said we will appear for other county attorneys so they don’t have to make the trip to Fillmore County.
Corson referred to the VTC as a diversion out of the normal process: conviction and normal probation. VTC intends to promote access to rehabilitation services, reduce use of incarceration, reduce recidivism, and encourage veterans to socialize.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies for the opening of the Third Judicial District Veterans Treatment Court will be held on Friday, September 20 at 1:30 p.m. at the Fillmore County Courthouse. Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea will be on hand for the ceremony. September 20 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
SHIP and TZD
Jessica Erickson, director of nursing, and Brenda Pohlman, health educator, presented a list of projects that will be pursued with Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) funding. Erickson said they plan to expend all of the grant funds before the end of the grant cycle. Monies will be used for staffing, education, traffic speed control, the county’s comprehensive plan, hydration stations, Semcac meals, food shelf, and a community needs assessment.
Traffic calming or speed control will involve the purchase of battery powered portable radar signs. They will be available to increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. The radar signs will be offered to communities within the county. Each sign with a data collection feature costs about $2,700 which will be paid for with SHIP funding. If a community wishes to upgrade to a solar powered sign, the community will need to cost share for the upgrade (about $1,000). They will be asked to work with law enforcement, provide education to the community and monitor data collection from the unit.
County Engineer Ron Gregg suggested appropriate areas for the speed signs including, but not limited to, Kingsland School on CR 1 (rural to residential) and CR 21, Canton to the north. Brenda Pohlman, health educator, spoke to the need for education and the partnership with law enforcement to be effective.
The board approved a resolution accepting the Toward Zero Deaths (TDZ) annual grant. The agreement with Fillmore County public health and sheriff is with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for two grants (October 2019-September 2020).
Erickson provided an update of the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor program. Houston County has asked to house the employee. Erickson also discussed funding for the Community Health Board and the expected allocation of grant dollars.
Other business in brief
•Approval was given for a field drive access to CR 107 for Johnson’s Rolling Acres, Section 17 of Norway Township.
Approval was given for a field drive access to CR 30 for Arlo Warnke, Section 31 of Harmony Township.
Two field drive expansions (width) of existing accesses to CR 12 were approved for Debra and Judith Kramer, Section 1 of Carimona Township.
•The resignation of Kurt Njos, social worker, was approved with thanks for his two years of service, effective August 23.
A request to replace the social work position through an internal transfer was approved. Nicole Lanz will transfer from Public Health to Social Services effective September 30. Both department heads agreed on the transfer.
A request to advertise for a replacement social worker/RN in public health was approved.
The resignation of Samantha Keasling, deputy sheriff, was approved with thanks for her 9.5 years of service, effective September 2.
• A request to transfer Scott Sweeney, current dispatcher to full-time deputy sheriff was approved, effective September 3. Lentz voted no.
•A request to hire Cristal Smith, a current intermittent dispatcher, as a full-time dispatcher was approved, effective September 9.
•A listing of committee assignments was provided. The committee assignments for each of the commissioners will be reviewed again before the end of the year. Approval was given for the list as presented, which appointed Hindt to a number of committees.
•There was an extended closed portion of the meeting for a labor contract strategy session with Local #85 Law Enforcement Labor Services. At the end of the regular board meeting the negotiations were reviewed, as was a summary page for a tentative agreement.