Date: November 7, 2023 9:00 a.m.
Place: Commissioners Room, Courthouse, Caledonia, MN
Members Present: Dewey Severson, Eric Johnson, Robert Burns, Bob Schuldt, and Greg Myhre
Presiding: Chairperson Severson
Call to order.
Pledge of Allegiance.
Prior to any motions being made Chairperson Serveson said there was one addition to the consent agenda: approve the hire of Susan Wiegrefe as a probationary 0.5 FTE, Deputy Auditor/Treasurer-License Center, B22, Step 1, effective 11/07/2023. Motion was made by Commissioner Johnson, seconded by Commissioner Burns, motion unanimously carried to approve the agenda with the change.
Motion was made by Commissioner Myhre, seconded by Commissioner Schuldt, motion unanimously carried to approve the meeting minutes from October 24, 2023.
Public Comment: None.
Motion by Commissioner Burns, seconded by Commissioner Myhre, motion unanimously carried to approve the consent agenda.
1) Re-appoint Managers Arlyn Pohlman and Brad Felten to the Crooked Creek Watershed District for a three (3) year term to expire on 11/30/26. Their current terms end on November 30, 2023.
2) Approve hiring Heidi Lapham as temporary/casual (67 day) Deputy Auditor-License Center, at a payrate of $22.90/hour through December 2023.
3) Change the employment status of Highway Mechanic, Shane St. John, from probationary to regular, effective 11/14/2023.
4) Change the employment status of Deputy Sheriff, Ethan Meyer, from probationary to regular, effective 11/21/2023.
5) Approve the hire of Susan Wiegrefe as a probationary 0.5 FTE, Deputy Auditor/Treasurer-License Center, B22, Step 1, effective 11/07/2023.
File No. 1 – Commissioners discussed adopting an updated Resolution No. 23-42 as the resolution passed the following week had some incorrect wording. Commissioner Burns moved, Commissioner Myhre seconded, motion carried unanimously to adopt Revised Resolution No. 24-42 for the Mn/Dot Aeronautics companion grant for the Airport Taxilane project.
File No. 2 – Commissioner Myhre moved, Commissioner Johnson seconded, motion carried unanimously to adopt Resolution No. 23-43 A resolution requesting a variance from standard for State Aid Operation for Project No. S.A.P. 028-610-021.
File No. 3 – Commissioner Johnson moved, Commissioner Myhre seconded, motion carried unanimously to approve a CUP for Thomas and Judy Vixfor for a solar energy system in the flood plain district of the agriculture protection district in Houston Township.
File No. 4 – Commissioners discussed the future of the jail and 2024 budget with Sheriff Swedberg and Jail Administrator Ott. Sheriff Swedberg and Ott along with the Jail Committee were bringing the matter forward for the Commissioners to vote on as staff were concerned about if the jail would remain open in the coming months. Sheriff Swedberg said he personally had gone “back and forth” on keeping the jail open or closing it. He said employees were nervous. Jail Administrator Ott told the board he was looking into the possibility of turning part of the current jail into an eight day temporary juvenile holdover facility (excluding weekends and holidays). They could possibly provide up to eight beds for juveniles. Based on his research so far he said he was “cautiously optimistic at this point”. The going rate for holding juveniles for other agencies was around $300 to $375 per day per juvenile. There was a need from other agencies for holding facilities in the area. Houston County could also utilize the facility and save money on transport costs for their own juveniles. There was the potential for new costs such as having to pay employees more or needing to update the current jail facility to meet requirements, but it was expected that the County could make money by temporarily holding juveniles. Ott said job descriptions for current employees would need to be revised if they became a temporary holding facility for juveniles. Commissioner Johnson said the 2024 jail budget had already been approved in the preliminary 2024 budget, and said it would be out of order to officially approve the 2024 jail budget before the final budget was approved at the end of the year. Commissioner Burns agreed. Commissioner Burns said he personally wanted to see the jail stay open, and did not anticipate any changes to the budget regarding the jail, but did agree the approval would be out of order. Commissioner Schuldt moved, Commissioner Myhre seconded, motion carried three to two to approve budgeting the Houston County Jail for 2024 and then review the jail budget/operations at the July 2024 BOC meeting. The Commissioners voted by roll. Commissioners Severson, Schuldt, and Myhre voted yes. Commissioners Johnson and Burns voted no.
Interim Auditor/Treasurer Heberlein thanked the board for the ability to use a variance for license center hours if needed. A variance had been granted the week before to be used if need, as the office was currently short staffed, and working on training new people. She said so far the license center had not needed to use the variance. They had made some progress in the office since the last meeting, however it was not a fast process with the State. She said the current two person team in the office was doing a great job at keeping up with the workload. She hoped the license center would not need to use the variance.
Commissioners discussed recent meetings they had attended and upcoming meetings including a Jail Committee, Zoning, Parks, Airport, Finance, and Hiawatha Valley Mental Health meeting.
Commissioner Johnson said he had been interviewed by a constituent and student about the health of the root river. He had been asked to be interviewed as he served on the Root River One Watershed Committee. He said the river was currently in good health, and a sample of the river was taken after every rain event.
Commissioner Johnson updated the board saying Commissioner Schuldt and him had been tasked with hiring an investigator to conduct an investigation into Amber Miller’s complaints and public comment. Commissioner Johnson said Crescent Security and Investigative Services out of Stewartville, MN had officially been hired to do the investigation. He said Crescent Security and Investigative Services also had access to an employment lawyer. The investigation had officially been started.
Reporter Rose Korabek asked if Houston County had looked into why Olmsted County had closed their juvenile facility. Commissioner Schuldt said Jail Administrator Ott would be the one to look into that.
There being no further business at 10:11 a.m. a motion was made by Commissioner Myhre, seconded by Commissioner Schuldt motion unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HOUSTON COUNTY, MINNESOTA
By: Dewey Severson, Chairperson
Attest: Polly Heberlein, Interim Auditor/Treasurer
THE ABOVE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSTON COUNTY BOARD OF COMISSIONERS IS ONLY A SUMMARY. THE FULL TEXT IS AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC INSPECTON AT THE HISTORIC HOUSTON COUNTY BUILDING AS WELL AS AT THE FOLLOWING WEB ADDRESS: https://www.co.houston.mn.us/.
Date: November 7, 2023 9:00 a.m.