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Cold talk on a cold day

Sun, Dec 24th, 2000
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Monday, December 25, 2000

Last Friday, the Fillmore County Board met in its last session of the year 2000. Although the agenda was light, even with sub-zero temperatures occurring outside the building, there was a lengthy discussion on a noisy air conditioner.

This was Commissioner Robert Underbakkes last meeting after serving on the Board for sixteen years. Underbakke had chosen not to run for reelection this past November and announced that he would miss being a commissioner.

As the meeting got under way, the Board heard from Karl Dirkson of TSP Engineering in Rochester on ways to remedy some recurring problems at the new Fillmore County Office Building.

The first problem area was with a computer equipment room that is experiencing higher temperatures than are called for in the specifications. The manufacturers specifications for the equipment in the room call for a stable temperature not to exceed 75 degrees. However, due to the volume of equipment in the room, the temperature has been hovering in the 80 to 85 degree range.

Dirkson felt that the higher temperature in the room did not pose a problem. He offered that any modifications made to the temperature control equipment would probably require that temperatures change in other parts of the building. The Board took no action on this matter.

The other problem area was with the excessive noise levels of an air conditioning condenser located just outside some offices on the north side of the building. Dirkson presented the Board with five options for correcting the noise level, which disturbs employees working on that side of the building.

While the options ranged in price from $3200 up to an unknown amount that seemed too high to even quote, the Board decided on an option that would create sound baffles on top of the condenser that would direct the sound upward, above the height of the wall and windows.

The Board has been dissatisfied with the building contractor, Nelson Construction of Caledonia, and has retained $10,000 of their payment. Commissioner Duane Bakke, asserting that the original decision of the contractor on the placement of the condenser outside of the office windows had brought on the noise problem, recommended that the Board not use Nelson Construction to make the modifications but instead use another local contractor. The decision on which contractor to use will be made later, after Dirksons firm has prepared a design for the modifications.

Soil and Water Together

Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Administrator Kevin Scheidecker came before the Board to propose that the office of the Water Quality Coordinator, Donna Rasmussen, be made a part of the SWCD. Currently, Rasmussens position is administratively separate and reports to the County Board.

Ms. Rasmussen was also present and indicated that the proposed change would be good from her perspective. Both offices work together closely, and the SWCD recently adopted the Fillmore County Water Plan as its own comprehensive plan. Additionally, combining the two offices would provide the Water Coordinator with administrative support, freeing her up for more program work.

The Water Quality Coordinators office is currently located in the Natural Resource building with the DNR, but this change would move the office to the SWCD office where Rasmussen would have access to email and internet service, tools that are currently not available in her present location.

After a discussion on the logistics of the merger from the countys budget perspective, the Board approved the proposed change on a motion by Commissioners Underbakke and Bakke.

Social Services

Social Services Director Tom Boyd made a brief appearance before the Board to request approval to hire a temporary financial worker for his office. The position would serve to replace a worker who is currently on sick leave due to family illness.

Boyd also requested approval on a contract with Fillmore County Handicapped Services for Supported Living Services at a cost of $1,135,790, and approval for staff conference attendance for 2001. The Board approved both of Boyds requests.


County Engineer Steve Voigt also had a short list of administrative items for approval. The Board authorized Voigt to advertise for an Engineering Aide/Intern position that they had approved at the last meeting. The position will be advertised together with all other open positions in the department.

The Board also held a discussion with Voigt on the purchase of heavy equipment for his department. Voigt was advocating the use of the state contract buying system to purchase equipment such as graders, dozers, and tandem trucks.

Board Chairman Gary Peterson informed Voigt that the states contract system had been used before by the county, but that on one occasion it had not proven to be the low price. Commissioner Helen Bicknese also voiced some concerns about using the states buying powers for all equipment. It was noted that local purchases also have a buy-back option whereas the states system does not. It was agreed by consensus that Voigt would investigate the State system in more detail and come back to the Board with more information.

The Board also gave approval to Voigt to attend a county engineers conference in St. Cloud in mid-January.

The Last Motion

As the meeting drew to a close, Chairman Peterson announced that there would be a retirement party for Commissioner Underbakke sometime in January. As those in attendance began to shake Underbakkes hand, acknowledging his many years of service and wishing him good luck, County Attorney Matt Opat suggested that it would be appropriate for Underbakke to make the motion for adjournment.

When the Board meets again on January 2, 2001, two new faces, Randall Dahl and Marc Prestby, will occupy the seats held by long-time commissioners Robert Underbakke and Donald Boyum. Boyum, who was absent from this meeting, missed his opportunity for the handshakes and last motions.

So, on a motion by Commissioner Underbakke, his own career as a county commissioner came to an end, as did this last meeting of the year 2000.

By Mike McGrath

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