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Board resolves to terminate engineer


Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, March 19, 2001

It was Commissioner Gary Petersons last meeting on the County Board, and probably the most significant event of the meeting was the Boards unanimous approval of a resolution to terminate the one-year probationary appointment of County Engineer Steve Voigt.

The resolution was a product of a discussion that County Attorney Matt Opat held with the Board on what options were legally available to the County with respect to Voigts contract. At the County Board meeting on February 20, the commissioners voted to advertise for new candidates for the engineer position.

At the request of the Board, Attorney Opat researched the state statutes governing the County Engineer position and found that the commissioners could either terminate Voigts contract at the end of his one-year appointment on May 14, or reappoint him for another four years.

Opat recommended that the Board make a resolution to terminate the appointment if that is what they wanted. "We need to do something with Steves current contract," he explained.

At this point, Commissioner Randy Dahl joined the discussion, asking Opat, "Is it possible to extend a term?"

"Only if you appoint him for four years," responded Opat.

Commissioner Duane Bakke then inquired of Opat, "Can he re-apply for the position, then be hired again for one year?"

"I havent found in the statute where we could do that," replied Opat. "I dont think we can start all over again; he would not be a new County Engineer."

To this, Commissioner Bakke responded, "Are we going to direct someone to make up a resolution?"

As the dialogue faded, Chair Helen Bicknese inquired of the commissioners, "Do you want to consider this and come back to this later in the morning?"

After a noticeable silence, Attorney Opat acknowledged that he would go write the resolution for the Board.

At the end of the meeting, Coordinator Karen Brown presented a resolution to the Board that called for the termination of the appointment on May 14, 2001. On a motion by Commissioners Bakke and Marc Prestby that was devoid of any discussion, the resolution was unanimously approved.

Fillmore sawmill

The Board formalized the conditions discussed with Ken Erding at last weeks meeting, and approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Erding to operate his sawmill in the Village of Fillmore.

The Board conditions require that Erding meet with the Planning Commission in two years to report on the progress of the cleanup of the end-trimmings pile that has accumulated over twenty years.

The permit also requires Erding to erect "an 8-10 foot decorative fence that is uniform in color, texture and size" on the south and west sides of the mill site. Commissioner Gary Peterson questioned the wording of this condition, noting that "decorative" could mean different things to different people.

"What is the purpose of the fence?" Peterson inquired. "Will a split rail fence work?"

In response to Petersons question, Commissioner Prestby asked Zoning Administrator Norm Craig, "You did discuss this with Erding, what is he going to put up?"

After a brief discussion on the reason for the fence requirement, Attorney Opat suggested the replacement of the word "decorative" with "solid." On a motion by Peterson and Prestby, the wording was changed and the permit approved.

Before exiting the meeting, Norm Craig reported to the Board that he had made contact with the owners of the three new cellular telephone towers that will be constructed along the highway 52 corridor, and they confirmed the towers will have white strobe lights during the daylight hours and red flashing lights at night.
Baffling business

The courthouse Maintenance Supervisor Dale Olson presented the commissioners with a design sketch for a baffle to be constructed over an air conditioner unit condenser at the Fillmore County Office Building.

The sketches were developed by TSP One, Inc., the architectural firm that served as construction managers on the new office building. The condenser sits just outside some office windows and the noise in the summer when the unit is running is disruptive. The baffle is designed to direct the noise upward, releasing it into the atmosphere above the building eaves.

The commissioners spent a considerable amount of time discussing the engineers sketches, offering their suggestions on how the design might be enhanced for meeting the goals to be achieved. Dale informed the Board that his department lacked the proper tools to construct the baffle and he preferred that the county hire the work done.

From the Coordinators office

County Policy Coordinator Karen Brown informed the commissioners that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has closed its file on the petroleum tank release at the former bulk plant site in Ostrander. Fillmore County acquired the property through a tax forfeiture process and was required to mitigate the leakage prior to selling the property.

With the MPCA release, the County may now begin the process of selling the property. Brown informed the commissioners that approximately 90%, or $9400, of the Countys cleanup cost is reimbursable through the states Petrofund.

The Board also gave Brown approval to hire a temporary, part-time Personal Computer Technician to assist the Countys in-house Network Technician. Fillmore County has 128 computers at five different locations and faces on-going upgrades in both software and hardware to keep the systems working together.

In a discussion on the proposed new hire, Commissioner Dahl said that he was concerned that a limited, part-time position would be inadequate for the future. "Im sure this isnt enough," stated Dahl referring to the one-quarter-time position Brown is requesting.
"Id be in support of this person being full-time in the summer," he added.

Commissioner Prestby seemed in agreement with Dahl, but added in defense of Browns request, "I say, lets at least try it."

"Is that a motion?" inquired Chair Bicknese.

"So moved," responded Prestby.

The motion was seconded by Dahl, who, as a self-professed advocate of the County maintaining high computer standards, added the comment: "I see the need for someone full time on this job."

The motion was approved with the time set at 10 hours per week now, and full-time in the summer in anticipation of attracting a high school or college computer student.

The Last Motion, again

In keeping with tradition, Commissioner Gary Peterson was allowed to make the motion for adjournment, his last motion as a commissioner. Just recently, two long-time commissioners, Robert Underbakke and Donald Boyum, also received a similar honor.

Commissioner Peterson served the people of District 3 in this position for sixteen years. Sometimes known to be a critic of media coverage of the commissioner meetings, Peterson leaves his seat on the Board to pursue a full-time career in media as the news director of a TV station in Austin.

Good luck, Gary, the Journal wishes you the best in your new endeavor.

By Mike McGrath

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