At the August 1 regularly scheduled Houston County Commission meeting, commissioners approved the purchase of two “chillers” from Winona Controls to replace the current HVAC systems in the Historic Courthouse.
The county received a bid from Winona Controls and Winona Heat and Vent for two units. Winona Controls came in at $128,000, and Winona Heat and Vent at $163,310. According to facility staff, both systems are described as comparable, adding, “They will not last as long as the old stuff did.” Facilities Manager Tess Kruger said that she considers it a “health and safety issue at this point and time.” Continuing, she noted, “The county is not able to get parts and bandage things together.” The system was last replaced in the ‘70s. Kruger assumes the units will arrive in 4-6 weeks and be installed in cooler weather.
Commissioners in attendance at this meeting included Chairperson Dewey Severson, Eric Johnson, Robert (Bob) Burns, Bob Schuldt and Greg Myhre.
Chairperson Severson called the regularly scheduled meeting to order at 9 a.m. Severson led his fellow commissioners and the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The board approved the meeting agenda and the minutes from the July 25 commission meeting.
With only one action item on the agenda, commissioners had adequate time to discuss the county’s jail situation. Commissioner Schuldt reported the jail operations review committee met with the Sheriff Brian Swedberg, Chief Deputy Bill Hargrove, and Jail Administrator Dean Ott, noting, “They are running a pretty tight ship over there with the two vacancies.” Schuldt repeated what Ott explained during the committee meeting that they are trying to get the positions filled. He wants commissioners to be aware that right now, each employee has a mandatory minimum of four hours per person per pay period of overtime. During the upcoming budget process there will be lots of discussion and analyzing data regarding the Department of Justice (DOJ) requirements for a holding facility after the contract with Winona ends.
The courthouse parking lot project will be wrapping up the week of August 7, announced County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski.
Chairman Severson thanked Houston County Auditor/Treasurer Donna Trehus for her years of service to Houston County.
In other business, the board:
•Approved a competitive search for a full-time deputy auditor/treasurer.
•Amended Patricia Goetzinger Krall’s resignation date effective August 26, 2023, and approved filling her position using the recent jailer/dispatcher search.
•Adopted three banking resolutions for the rest of 2023, one each for ESB Banking Powers, Merchants Bank, and Rushford State Bank.
•Adjourned the meeting at 9:52 a.m.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Houston County Commission is Tuesday, August 8, 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.