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County Board updated on Semcac activities


Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in All Government

Wayne Stenberg, Semcac’s executive director, reviewed a summary of Semcac activities at the county board’s February 11 meeting.

Semcac, a non-profit organization, serves an 11 county area in southeast Minnesota. The 21 member board of directors has three representatives from Fillmore County including commissioner Randy Dahl.

Because many of its services are federally funded, the across the board automatic spending cuts referred to as sequestration have reduced Semcac’s ability to provide some services. Sequestration was put into effect in 2013 after being made law as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The theory was that the across the board cuts in discretionary and defense spending would be so painful that Congress would have to work together during the time before they kicked in to reduce spending in a less harmful way. However, they did go into effect and programs like Head Start and Senior Dining had to be reduced because of lack of funding.

Stenberg said a portion of the cuts have been restored in this last budget, but he didn’t see the reduction in Senior Dining funding coming back. Senior Dining sites in Lewiston and Houston were lost. There has been $97,000 in cuts because of sequestration to senior services. Some employees had to be laid off.

Semcac offers a variety of programs including energy assistance to help with household winter heating bills, Head Start, food shelves, senior services, transportation and more. Stenberg noted they have been helping a lot of families with LP gas needs in the area. He expects more funding in the budget for weatherization assistance. This federal program helps to provide energy conservation improvements in the home to reduce energy consumption.

Food shelves operated by Semcac are located in Preston and Rushford. Numbers using food shelves are way up, donations are needed.

Bus rides (Rolling Hills Transit) have been expanded. This is public transportation, fare-based (flat, small fee), and it can be used by the general public. Buses are accessible for people with disabilities. Buses can be used for transportation to medical appointments, work, daycare, a local business, other appointments, or a senior dining site. This bus service is subsidized by the department of transportation.

Semcac partners with 772 different associations including 154 for-profit businesses bringing dollars back into the community. In 2013 Semcac reached nearly 33,000 people that received some kind of service. Nearly one-third of the people served were over 70 years old and about one-fifth were 24 to 44 years of age.

Semcac’s main office is at 204 S. Elm Street in Rushford. More information can be found at www.semcac.org

Employee
recognition

Once a year the county board recognizes county employees. Employees are recognized when they reach each five year increment, starting with five years and ending this year with 40 years.

LuAnn Hoff has served the county for 40 years and Sheriff Daryl Jensen for 35 years. Robert Engen (highway) and Cindy Mensink (attorney/coordinator) have worked for the county for 30 years. Seven more employees have been with the county for 20 or 25 years, 10 for 15 years, four for 10 years, and five for five years.

Chairman Chuck Amunrud thanked them all, saying they were valuable and important to the board and the county.

Each year a safety award is presented. Brenda Pohlman, Public Health, was this year’s recipient. Also nominated were Blaine Tufte, Maintenance, and Chris Graves, Zoning.

Other business in brief

•County Attorney Brett Corson asked for and received approval to issue a check for $56,000 to purchase about three acres from the Grooters family. One-thousand in earnest money already had been paid to obtain the land necessary for the Greenleafton Septic System. Corson said the next step is to secure easements from various property owners. He will draft ordinance and easement agreements.

Amunrud noted the county will be made whole with grants, but will have to pay for the land purchase up front.

•The court house will be closed on February 17 for President’s Day.

•Jeffrey Brand was reappointed as the county surveyor for a four year term.

•There was some discussion about a smoking policy for the county at the Department Head committee meeting. Other county policies dealing with smoking will be researched. It was noted that on some cold days, some smokers have slipped inside between the inside and outside doors to smoke. At issue are county employees and the public that smoke on county property. It was suggested that they will consider a ‘zero’ tobacco policy anywhere on county property.

•Starting this year the state has mandated that people be randomly tested for drug use if they have a past felony drug conviction and are on General Assistance or in the Minnesota Family Investment Program. Commissioner Duane Bakke was concerned that the cost of this drug testing may have to come from county tax dollars. He suggested it be discussed at the next Social Services Committee meeting.

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