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Talking about trash, etc.

Mon, May 8th, 2000
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The weekly meeting of the Fillmore County Board got off to a languid and laid-back start last Tuesday morning as various commissioners filtered into the meeting room as late as 9:10. And to think just a few short months ago the starting time for the meeting was usually a punctual 8:30.

Granted, a couple of the commissioners had been attending an early morning meeting with the social services committee at the faraway new county office building. Now, with the increasing summer Bluff Country tourist traffic and the resulting congestion on the streets of Preston, one wonders if the starting time of the weekly board meetings won't soon be 9:30 or even 10:00.


The first hour of the meeting was spent discussing solid waste issues with St. Paul attorney Barbara Johnson. The previous week the board had approved hiring Johnson at a rate of $120 per hour to evaluate proposed changes at the coun-ty's Resource Recovery Center.

Johnson introduced herself to the board and told them that she had worked on solid waste issues for twelve years and had been a lobbyist on environmental and solid waste issues as well. She said that her first step would be to review the county's solid waste ordinance and its hauling contracts with four local cities. She would also review the contract the county had with the Winneshiek, Iowa, landfill and the proposed contract with Waste Management Inc.

She would also look into what should be done with the county composting and recycling center and transfer station. If the county made the decision to get out of composting they would be responsible for repaying a $186,000 environmental grant from the state, Johnson said. She went on to say that other counties have had such grants forgiven and this might be an option in this case as well.

Johnson said that another route the county might choose to go would be to lease the transfer station and the composting and recycling center. She said that a request for proposal (RFP) could be drafted to see who might be interested in running the center. She said that there might be one company interested in running just the recycling part of the business and another interested in the transfer station.

County attorney Matt Opat spoke up and said, "I'm wondering if there are companies that will bid on this at all."

"The only way to find out is through the RFP process," Johnson replied.

Commissioner Bakke said that he didn't believe there was anybody "out there who would want to run the composting center."

"The simplest solution would be just to close the facility," board chairman Gary Peterson said.

After a lengthy discussion the board agreed to have the solid waste committee write up an RFP and then have Johnson review it, before submitting it for public bids.

New county engineer?

Steven Voigt of Lyons County, MN. is the proposed new Fillmore County Engineer. Coordinator Karen Brown reported that she and commissioners Peterson and Helen Bicknese had held a teleconference with Voigt on Monday May 1, in which they discussed various matters relating to his potential employment.

Voigt had asked that the board consider granting him ten hours per month vacation accrual rate, even though the current policy for new employees is eight hours of vacation accrual rate per month.

After a brief discussion the board seemed to be in agreement that they weren't willing to make an exception for one single employee.

Among the other issues that Voigt wanted the board to look at was the matter of taking a county vehicle home at night. He indicated that on occasions it would be more efficient to have the vehicle at his home.

After discussion the board agreed that they would leave it at the engineer's discretion8 if he needed to take the county vehicle home at night.

Brown said that she would call Voigt back with the board's decisions.


Sheriff Jim Connolly told the board that he had been approached by the cities of Harmony and Mabel about the county contracting their law enforcement services. He said that both cities were having problems in maintaining officers.

Connolly said that currently Canton, which is in between Mabel and Harmony has a contract with the county. Connolly said that he would like to see an agreement reached between the three cities and the county in which three full-time deputies and three squad cars would provide 16 hour-a-day, seven day-a-week service to the three cities and the surrounding area.

"The best way to do this would be to keep officers down there all the time," Connolly said.

As far as the expenses went, Harmony and Mabel would each pay for one officer and one car and the county would pick up the expenses of the third officer and car. He said that Canton currently pays the county between ten and twelve thousand dollars a year. "This portion would offset the county's third in the equation," Connolly said.

The board seemed impressed with the idea and passed a motion to allow Connolly to write contracts with the three cities before bringing the matter back before the board.

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