At the December 14 Fillmore County Board meeting, commissioners approved Request for Proposals advertisement for Architectural Services for design and build for a new or remodeled county jail.
Publication of the RFP in the official newspaper will appear in the December 27 and January 3 issues. A committee will review proposals submitted and three firms will be selected to be interviewed on February 8. The committee to review the proposals will be set up at the next board meeting on December 21.
AcenTek is the fourth broadband company to request the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to build fiber to an underserved area in the county. Darren Moser, AcenTek chief financial officer, proposed a plan to bring broadband to the rural Canton area. The total project would cost about $2.4 million. AcenTek would provide 65% ($1.5 million) of the investment funding. Moser made a request for the county to provide 35% or $850,265 from its ARPA funds. The project has already been engineered. If the funds were awarded, the project could start in 2023 and be completed by 2025. This project could provide broadband service to 267 businesses, residences, and farms.
Commissioner Duane Bakke noted that the funding requested by the four broadband companies exceeds the ARPA funding the county is receiving. He suggested that they also seek other funding options. Commissioner Mitch Lentz noted that some townships are struggling to find ways to spend their ARPA funds.
Five county position requests are being considered by the board using ARPA funding, including an attorney paralegal, sheriff deputy, income maintenance worker, float employee position, and jailer. The additional positions have been discussed in the Personnel Committee. Two were approved this day. A motion was approved to advertise for an attorney paralegal. The position will be funded for one year with ARPA funds. A motion was approved to move a part-time deputy to full time. This position will be funded for up to three years with ARPA funds. Sheriff John DeGeorge said his department is fully staffed now, but retirements are expected in the next three years.
Other business in brief
• An ordinance regulating the use of ATVs on Fillmore County roads was approved.
• Approval was given for the EDA to host the Fillmore County Ag Agriculture Summit on February 24 at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. Five presenters have agreed to be available ranging from Ag entrepreneurship, succession planning, to emotional wellness.
• A five-year SCORE grant agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for the years 2022-2026 was approved. The grant provides about $64,000 per year.
• The board approved a letter of support for a federal EDA Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Grant program submission requested by Colleen Foehrenbacher, director of Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. The center wants to expand programming and provide more outdoor recreation opportunities to travelers and tourists. Included in the project plans is a two-story visitors/nature center building. The total estimated project cost is $4-5 million.
• An updated Fillmore County fee schedule was reviewed and discussed. Approval of the fee schedule will be considered at the first 2022 meeting.
• Sheriff John DeGeorge detailed a proposal to purchase a 2022 Ford Explorer 4×4 squad car through Enterprise Fleet Management (purchase price of $35,483). Setup by Emergency Automotive Technologies, Inc. will cost $5,789.21. The proposal was approved as presented.
DeGeorge explained the recording unit for jail cameras has been malfunctioning and it is not repairable. Approval was given to replace jail camera DVR system with a system from Ban-Koe Systems Group, Inc. at a cost of $9,877.15.
• The low bids submitted by Minnowa Construction on the following six bridge replacement projects were approved: on CSAH 30 in Harmony Township ($283,338.80), CSAH 26 in Beaver Township ($267,353.45), on CR 105 in Arendahl Township ($147,192.50), in Newburg Township ($121,300), and two bridges under one contract in Sumner and Norway Townships ($221,830). A bid from Rochester Sand & Gravel in the amount of $873,085.56 was approved for the surface reconditioning project on CSAH 30 from TH 139 to Niagara Cave.
• A resolution to execute a grant agreement between Fillmore County and state, Commissioner of Transportation, for an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) relocation at the airport was approved. The relocation is necessary due to the construction of a new T-hangar. The agreement expires in 2024 or when all obligations have been fulfilled. The state is responsible for 70% of the total cost and the county 30% (about $35,000). The total project cost is $116,460. A resolution to purchase 0.29 acres from Mary Jane Glaser and James D. Keune was approved in order to place the AWOS in this ideal location. The low bid of three submitted to relocate the AWOS was awarded to Neo Electrical Solutions.
• Alexandra Meldahl was hired as a social worker, effective January 3, 2022.
• The annual subscription and professional service for Nessus Scanner System for Human Services through Marco at an estimated cost of $12,390 was approved. This system is a required security check of who has access to programs and systems in regard to child support, Medicare, and Medicaid.
• A three-year contract with Lumen for phone service was approved.
• A resolution was adopted for an updated city of Lanesboro Abatement Agreement with Fillmore County and G-Cubed Development, Inc. Changes in the agreement regarding the Valley Vista Addition were approved by county attorney Brett Corson. The tax abatement is connected to the construction of about 80 owner occupied single family residential units.
• A resolution was approved for Fillmore County to sign onto the national multistate opioid settlement. The county supports and opts into the settlements with McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen and with Johnson & Johnson.
• After a long discussion, the board voted to allow county employees to have an additional eight hours of PTO which must be taken between December 16 and December 30. Commissioner Marc Prestby voted no. Department heads will need to manage the timing of the day off for their employees so offices remain staffed throughout the period. The idea was presented to improve morale and as a good will gesture for employees after a tough couple of years. Tom Kaase spoke during the Citizens Input portion of the meeting. He said the county has a generous benefit program already and private sector employees will not get the same benefit during the holiday season.
• An access permit to widen an existing field drive to CR 25 for Justin Boyum, section 13 of Arendahl Township, was approved.
• Daniel Terbeest was appointed to serve on the Extension Committee.