Soil and water

County Board Holds Busy Session | Government


Houston County Commissioners had plenty of items on their plates on Tuesday, July 27.

After further discussions on the likely future duties of the county environmental services manager, the board approved a 10-point “consent agenda” with a single vote. This list included launching a competitive search to fill the aforementioned director position with a permanent hire. Some of the other staff items on the consent agenda included accepting the resignation of Maintenance Specialist Dustin Rask and finding a replacement to fill that position. Another competitive search was also approved – this one to fill the position of “senior social worker” in children’s services. None of the hiring searches would increase the total number of employees employed by the county.

Commissioners also approved a Federal Aviation Administration grant “close-out report” on a recent master plan with updated airport development plan for the Houston County Airport near Caledonia. Under the agreement, the FAA will contribute 90% ($ 187,020) for the project, with Houston County and the state of Minnesota each contributing 5% ($ 10,390).

On a related note, the board approved a set of five-year airport ground leases for airmen at the airport. The lots belong to Houston County, while those who lease the spaces own the actual hangers.

Work continues on the new County Road Headquarters / Workshop. Commissioners have accepted an asphalt paving offer from Dunn Blacktop (Winona) to lay materials specifically intended to resist while heavy equipment rolls over it, County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski reported. The causeway will cover a considerable area around the facility, including the interior of the new sand and salt storage sheds. The cost of the work is $ 369,666. An offer from Windsor Co. (St Paul) to provide concrete polishing in parts of the main building was also accepted. This item was $ 6,255. Finally, the Commissioners approved “Change Order # 12”, deducting the cost ($ 3,924) of a shed for a landowner next to the contractor, since Houston County provided this item. The change will return those dollars to the project contingency fund.

The commissioners also voted 4-1 to grant all full-time county employees a payment of $ 50 as a token of appreciation, recognizing the essential tasks they performed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board voted to reinstate the $ 30 per diem for members of the Houston County Parks Committee attending regular meetings of this group. Although they were never officially canceled, the payments in question somehow did not continue in 2017 and subsequent years, county staff reported. Retroactive per diems will go to Member Dick Walter for 15 meetings, as well as Member Dennis Yeiter for two meetings.

Another vote changed an agreement between Houston County and the Goodhue County Soil and Water Conservation District. By amending the pact (contract extension until July 31, 2022), grants will continue to be available for certain feedlot cost-sharing projects, Acting Director of Environmental Services Amelia Meiners reported.

Commissioners approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for Karl Housker to build a non-farm dwelling on less than 40 acres in an agricultural protection district (in Caledonia Township). Another UPC was also approved. This permit will allow Thomas Ready to use certain existing buildings to operate a “multiple storage facility” in a business headquarters located in the Township of La Crescent.

By consensus, the council decided to consider a study that could identify ways to make county operations more efficient. A meeting of department heads is scheduled on the subject, and the item will also be brought before the county finance committee.

Board chairman Bob Burns said there are a number of potential Houston County uses for the US bailout dollars. Ideas include increased broadband access, other information technology projects, road service needs, stormwater projects, human service needs, etc. Burns also said some EDA projects may qualify and noted that other counties are considering upgrading housing to attract workers. So far, Houston County has received $ 1,806,416 in program dollars out of a total of $ 3,612,832.

Shirley Johnson of the Houston County Historical Society reported on the difficult year of 2020. Johnson also described some exciting exhibits that can be seen at the museum, and a host of other activities the group is involved in. Regarding the annual support from Houston County, “We are not asking for an increase, which we have not done since 2008,” she said.

Kendra Waldenberger, an intern at the University of Minnesota, briefed the board on the many Houston County activities she had been involved in, including a video she produced on Farm Family of the Year and a number articles she wrote that appeared in the Caledonia Argus. “At the end of my internship, I will have written and published eight articles for the Argus“, she said,” and come away with a new appreciation for writing … Overall I believe in this internship opportunity, and would recommend it to a friend looking for an internship. in agricultural communication. “


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