Houston County Commissioners continued the discussion from last week’s meeting regarding the future of the Houston County Jail at its August 8 regularly scheduled meeting.
Severson confirmed that the contract with Winona ends at the end of September.
Commissioner Eric Johnson asked the two commissioners, Chairperson Dewey Severson and Commissioner Bob Schuldt, who sit on the jail operations review committee if they are actually looking at numbers, and what the cost is to keep the jail running versus closing it.
Severson said we do not have actual numbers at this time. Commissioner Schuldt said, “There is a lot more to it than just closing it.” Sheriff Brian Swedberg and Jail Administrator Dean Ott are looking at all options, and it is going to take time to come up with those figures.
Commissioner Johnson noted that the crime rate has currently been in a valley. Both Chairperson Severson and Commissioner Schuldt agreed that there are highs and lows.
There were many questions that could not be answered at this time. Jail Administrator Ott has his hands full analyzing the numbers and the county’s responsibilities to make a recommendation to the board. The board will need to make a decision as the budget season is fast approaching.
Commissioners in attendance included Chairperson Severson and Commissioners Johnson, Robert (Bob) Burns, Schuldt, and Greg Myhre.
Chairperson Severson called the regularly scheduled meeting to order at 9 a.m. Severson led his colleagues and the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The board approved the meeting agenda after action item number two was removed as the agreement was not received prior to today’s meeting. The minutes from the August 1 regularly scheduled commission meeting were approved as written.
Commissioners approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Sean Mazzei. Mazzei be adding a cabin to his property in an ag district located in Winnebago Township. Environmental Services Director Martin Herrick noted that there is some grading work to do and that Mazzei has other property in the area. He added that “it is straight forward and Mazzei will be bringing in a cabin.” Herrick confirmed that the CUP was previously tabled, noting that Mazzei has worked everything out with his neighbor.
In other business, the board:
•Approved hiring Matthew Kuehl and Derek St. Mary as full-time lead jailers/dispatchers, as of August 27, 2023. Sheriff Swedberg confirmed that both Kuehl and St. Mary require training, and that Kuehl has experience working in a jail setting.
•Adjourned the meeting at 9:45 a.m.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Houston County Commission is Tuesday, August 22, at 9 a.m. in the County Commission Board Room 222, located on the second floor in the historic county courthouse, Caledonia, or via the county conference call line (312) 626-6700 enter ID: 994-7297-7175 and password 368422. Public attendees are requested to mute their line until addressed.