Houston County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, May 3, from 9-10:11 a.m. at the historic county courthouse in downtown Caledonia.
Commissioners in attendance included Chairman Greg Myhre, Teresa Walter, Robert (Bob) Burns, Eric Johnson, and Dewey Severson.
Chairman Myhre called the meeting to order and led the commissioners and the public in the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioners approved the May 3 meeting agenda with three updates to the consent agenda as requested by Personnel Director Tess Kruger and Commissioner Walter, and the April 26 meeting minutes. The updated consent agenda was unanimously approved.
Facilities Manager, Tess Kruger informed the council that Fowler and Hammer and Wieser Brothers were each sent a Request for Quote (RFQ) to renovate the current ADA accessible restroom and the adjacent women’s restroom on the first floor of the courthouse. The county received a quote from Fowler and Hammer. Kruger confirmed that the existing ADA restroom is ADA compliant that meets the minimal requirements. This project will ensure that all visitors with disabilities are able to use the ADA restroom. The commission approved the contract with a cap of $80,000. The project will be funded with ARPA funds. The contract covers materials and labor and if possible, the plan is to reuse any existing material. The vote to approve moving forward was four to one with Commissioner Johnson the lone dissenting vote. He stressed that he voted no based on the ‘gray areas in the contract’ and not the project itself.
The Brownsville VFW donated $200 to the veteran services office. The donation can be used for any veteran’s needs.
Commissioners Walter and Severson have been approached by the La Crescent Historical Society for $4,000 to assist with their remodel. Finance director, Carol Lapham explained, “It does not fall into what our focus has been.” Commissioner Burns explained further that ARPA funds have been given to non-profits but those all deal with assisting low-income, and handicap. This is a different scenario.” The request was tabled until the board gets more information.
PHN director John Pugleasa requested $26,898.75 in ARPA funds to purchase camera equipment and recording devices for forensic interviewing for the child-friendly room. Pugleasa recommends going with EPI Audio Visual. Commissioner Sevenson shared his opinion, “We have talked about it for quite some time and something I think is needed and have the opportunity to do it while we have some ARPA funds.” Pugleasa request was approved.
Environmental Service Director, Martin Herrick announced that the county received two proposals for the Comprehensive Land Use plan. The first proposal from WSB was $88,000 with an additional cost of $1,000 to update the zoning map. The proposal from TKDA was $66,200 as the base with a menu of optional items. For example, the cost to prepare the land use map is an additional $5,000 and there are costs for additional meetings depending on the type of meeting requested – PMT, open houses, county board meeting, focus groups, and pop-up meetings. Commissioner Burns emphasized that he wants to make sure that the county gets enough input from the public in-person meetings and not Zoom meetings. The board accepted TKDA proposal. Herrick will be the main contact person going forward.
The next regularly scheduled Houston County Commission meeting is Tuesday, May 10, at 9 a.m. at 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.