Houston County Board

Director hired

The Houston County Board approved the probationary hiring of Olivia Niday as the county’s part-time emergency management director (EMD) effective June 12 at its May 23 regular meeting.

This is a 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) position within the Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Kurt Kuhlers, who retired on March 10, previously held the EMD role. Kuhlers also served as Houston County’s court security officer.

On Feb. 7, Sheriff Mark Inglett had presented a staff-restructuring plan to the board, which requested two full-time positions to fill Kuhlers’ vacancy – full-time EMD and a full-time court officer. His proposal included hiring one full-time deputy to do court security, which he pointed out was already in the budget for 2017.

Ultimately, the board approved replacing Kuhlers’ dual roles with one full-time deputy for court security and a part-time individual to take over as EMD.

Chatfield City Council

Bidding process moving forward

Tom Kellogg, of WSB, Chatfield’s city engineer, came before the City Council last Monday, May 22, with a resolution to advertise for bids for improvements to Industrial Drive. The city has been working to develop lots on the gravel road and wishes to install infrastructure to make the lots more appealing to potential buyers.

Kellogg introduced the matter by reminding the council that the last time he had approached the members was during a committee of the whole (COW) meeting held in late April. He said he had been under the impression the council would be setting a direction for him during the current meeting.

Councilor Paul Novotny made a motion to bid the project for substantial completion, or a drivable surface, and wait to see what contractors’ competition for spring projects might bring the city.

Ultimately, Kellogg cited that he would compile a bid package that would give the council the leverage to reject parts of bids if the members chose to do so. Novotny’s motion was seconded, after which the council voted in favor of bidding now.

Chatfield EDA

Receives frustrating news

The Chatfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) received some particularly frustrating news during its May meeting, held last Monday, May 22.

EDA director Chris Giesen reported that David Ries, who owned Ries Auto on North Main Street in Chatfield, had declared bankruptcy and, in doing so, the EDA will no longer have the right to pursue any action to collect the $44,000 revolving fund loan debt Ries owes for the improvement on the property.

Meanwhile, the building has become an available storefront on Chatfield’s main throughway, meaning there are possibilities for new business opportunities.

Houston County Board

Upholds Erickson Mine’s CUP

On May 23 by a 3-to-2 vote, the Houston County Board of Commissioners decided not to revoke a conditional use permit (CUP) at the center of a contentious legal battle involving the Erickson Sand Mine in Yucatan Township outside of Rushford.

The matter fell into the board’s lap following a District Court order issued on Feb. 7 by Judge Carmaine Sturino, who ruled that the access road used by the mine violated the county’s ordinance dealing with property setbacks.

According to the finding of fact, the Erickson Mine is expected to fully comply with the CUP and ordinance requirements for the two years remaining on the 2014 permit.

Fillmore County Board

Consider waste concerns

The Fillmore County commissioners opened discussion with Chatfield’s Strongwell, Inc., representatives Dennis Thorson and Mike Jaszewski and William Hanson of William Hanson Waste Removal and Recycling during the Tuesday, May 23, county board meeting. The topic of discussion revolved around the removal of industrial waste from Strongwell and how the waste is delivered to the Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center by Hanson’s company.

Thorson and Jaszewski said Strongwell is willing to work with the county toward a mutual agreement for the safe disposal of the dust, but that converting the air filtration equipment would take at least 90 days.

Fillmore County Board

Hires finance officer

Human Resources officer Kristina Kohn brought numerous items to the Fillmore County Board on Tuesday, May 23, including a request to hire a finance officer.

Kohn cited that Heidi Jones was a candidate for hire as a finance officer, effective May 24, because Jones had already served four months in that position and was well-recommended for it.

Furthermore, Kohn and the hiring committee registered a request to have Jones’s first four months included in the county’s customary year-long probationary period, and the commissioners obliged.

Spring Valley Council

Continues ordinances discussion

The Spring Valley City Council reviewed further changes to the city’s exterior maintenance ordinance draft during the May 22 meeting.

The ordinance regulates the exterior maintenance of buildings in the city to make sure they are in good condition. The main focus of discussion last week centered on the 20 percent assessment for work completed by or on behalf of the city.

The ordinance would be handled similar to the junk ordinance, so letters would be sent to the property owners before it would be brought before the council.

The council tabled the item for further review.

R-P School Board

Discusses new school

The new school site was the focus of the discussion held at the May 22 Rushford-Peterson School Board meeting.

Tim Robertson, of ICS Consulting, began the meeting discussing the progress of construction on the new school.

“They are tracking a little bit ahead of schedule,” he affirmed. Superintendent Chuck Ehler pointed out this information in response to rumors saying that the school would not be ready for its Aug. 15 turnkey date. This means, that the school is roughly 70 days away from project completion.

FC School Board

Prepares for 2017-2018

The Fillmore Central School Board met on Tuesday, May 23, rounding out the 2016-2017 school year and discussing summer work and items of business needed to prepare for the 2017-2018 school year.

Some of these items include regular business to be approved every year, such as the sports sharing agreement for cross-country, wrestling, boys and girls track, softball and baseball with Lanesboro and for wrestling with Mabel-Canton and the membership for the Minnesota State High School League. In addition, the board approved a renewal of the transportation contract with Harmony Transit.

City of Mabel

Considers funding daycare

The Mabel City Council and Economic Development Authority (EDA) met to discuss the alternative plans for a proposed daycare center to be built near the Steam Engine Grounds at a special joint meeting on May 17.

City financial advisor Mike Bubany, with David Drown and Associates, was also in attendance and discussed the estimated $300,000 building project.

The EDA will give a progress report on the project at the next Mabel City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 14.

Mabel-Canton Board

Reviews athletic fees

Members of the Mabel-Canton School Board spent considerable time at the Tuesday, May 16, meeting covering the positives and negatives of the proposed changes to cheer squad athletic fees, schedules and revenue distribution.

Athletic director Lonnie Morken said he did not advise changing the prior policy of having no fee for the squad. He also recommended that pay for cheer coach Heather Kleiboer would not change either.

Following extensive discussion, the motion was made and passed to not charge athletic fees for the cheer program and Kleiboer’s coaching pay would be unchanged.

Mabel-Canton Board

Superintendent resigns

Members of the Mabel-Canton School Board met with Superintendent Jennifer Backer on Tuesday, May 23, in a special session.

Backer had requested the meeting to tender her resignation as superintendent of schools for the district, effective June 30. According to the outgoing superintendent, she is leaving to accept another superintendent position with another Minnesota school district.

The board accepted her resignation as presented.