Commissioners Dewey Severson, Eric Johnson, Robert Burns, Greg Myhre, and Teresa Walter were all present via Zoom on May 25, 2021, for the regular meeting of the Houston County Commission.
Others present, Auditor/Treasurer Donna Trehus, Finance Director Carol Lapham, Human Resources Director Theresa Arrick-Kruger, Public Health and Human Services Director John Pugleasa, Public Health Supervisor Heather Myhre, Board Clerk/EDA Director Allison Wagner, Interim Recorder Mary Betz, Engineer Brian Pogodzinski, Environmental Services Director/Zoning Administrator Amelia Meiners, Chief Deputy Brian Swedberg, IT Director Andrew Milde, Assessor Lucas Onstad, DDA Tessia Melvin, and County Attorney Samuel Jandt.
Chairman Burns called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. and adjourned three hours later at 11:56 a.m.
Commissioner Johnson led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioners approved the meeting agenda with the addition of the Emergency Declaration.
Commissioners approved the minutes from the May 11, 2021, board meeting and the May 18, 2021, workgroup session.
John Pugleasa and Heather Myhre, Houston County Public Health, presented their weekly COVID-19 update.
Pugleasa started off by stating, “We are encouraged to see that the county’s numbers are flat.”
The county is in the top 10% in all three age categories. This week the state dashboard shows that Houston County residents age 16-plus are 68% vaccinated, 95% of residents age 65-plus are vaccinated, and the total population is 52% vaccinated.
Twelve- to fifteen-year-olds have not been added to the state’s dashboard but will be added soon. The vaccine has only been available for the last couple of weeks. Myhre answered the commissioner’s question. The department has had less than five phone calls from parents of 12- to 15-year-olds asking about getting them vaccinated. It was noted that healthcare providers are vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds as the county does not have the ultra-cold storage unit to store Pfizer. Pfizer is currently the only vaccine approved for children/youth. The other vaccines are in clinical trials for kids.
The county is not conducting large-scale clinics and just completed their last-second dose large-scale clinic. Pugleasa explained, “The value of vaccine has gone down, and the value of getting people vaccine has increased.”
Commissioners approved the guardianship contract with Rebecca Servais, hired Dustin Rask as a probationary Maintenance Specialist B23-2, accepted the resignation of Tamara Olson, Forensic Social Worker; and approved Resolution No. 21-24 Viking Snowmobile Trail, Resolution No. 21-25 Gopherland Snowmobile Trail, Resolution No. 21-26 Houston Money Creek Snowmobile Trail, and Resolution No. 21-27 La Crescent Snowmobile Trail with one unanimous motion.
Commissioners spent 15 minutes approving five action items before going into closed session at 9:30 am. They issued county credit cards to Mary Betz and Amelia Meiners. The also accepted the change order request #9 for the highway department building, the updated COVID-19 guidelines presented by Public Health, and the contract for Brothers Up North LLC to complete work on the Root River Japanese Hops project.
Following the closed session, the commissioners unanimously approved the changes to the 2021-2023 Labor Agreement between Houston County and Local Union #2166, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Council 65. The changes are a one-year contract instead of a three-year contract, a $1 per hour raise for 2020-21, and deletion of sections no longer applicable.
Commissioners recessed the regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. and went into closed session to discuss labor negotiations, including negotiation strategies or developments or discussion and review of labor negotiation proposals. Commissioners returned at 10:18 a.m. They will provide DDA and Theressa Arrick-Kruger general direction. No action was taken.
Commissioners went back into closed session at 10:18 a.m. to discuss pending litigation regarding a tax court case. The board returned to open session at 10:33 a.m. Commissioners will provide direction to Attorney Jandt’s office. No action was taken.
The board went back into closed session at 10:35 a.m. This closed session was to discuss allegations or charges against an individual subject to its authority. It was noted this meeting may be opened at the request of the individual who is the subject of the meeting. At 11:37 a.m., the board returned to open session. The board will provide direction to Arrick-Kruger. No action was taken.
The Houston County Commission’s next meeting is Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at 9 a.m. The public is invited to dial in. Contact Donna Trehus, (507) 725-5803 to be included in remote meetings.