Fillmore County’s commissioners handled various matters of importance related to county operation, including legal issues of sexting, home health care, courthouse security and other issues during the Feb. 6 County Board meeting. 

County attorney Brett Corson introduced his office’s participation in a program to educate students in schools within the county about the dangers and illegality of sexting, as well as about how to combat bullying. 

Marla Stanton, of the attorney’s office, outlined that the program came about as part of a request from an area school district in response to problems within that district.  The attorney’s office partnered with the sheriff’s department -- specifically investigator John DeGeorge – to pilot the program and share information with students in fifth through eighth grade and ninth through 12th grade regarding what is illegal and what is wrong to send by social media or text message. 

“The goal is to get out and tell the kids what is illegal and what is wrong.  We’re seeing this in the courtroom, prosecuting juveniles and adults, so our goal is to get out and educate kids so that they stay out of trouble and stay safe,” said Stanton. 

She added that the schools have contributed resources toward continued education for parents during evening parents’ meetings held to explain to parents what their children might encounter while using social media because young people are digital natives.  She concluded by noting that the county has visited at least three school districts and is working to make stops in the remaining districts this school year. 

In another matter, the board also granted Corson’s request to continue the attorney’s office’s subscription to LexisNexis for online research. 

Home health services

Director of nursing Jessica Erickson came forward with the annual review of waiver and homecare services, a request to attend the 2018 Minnesota Early Detection & Intervention/Birth Defects annual meeting, and a request to reimburse 2017 mileage. 

She highlighted how the county’s residents use home health services through the different programs and how the county is reimbursed for services rendered to clients. 

The commissioners’ conversation centered on how to extend home health care in a time when there is less reimbursement in relation to the cost of providing the service, and how to balance access to service with fiscal responsibility to taxpayers.  Further discussion will be held as Erickson and the public health committee engage in investigation of the matter. 

Commissioner Duane Bakke motioned to approve the annual meeting attendance, after which the rest of the commissioners agreed.  The commissioners briefly addressed the $758 mileage reimbursement request, as the county recently adopted a 45-day reimbursement policy, reaching the decision with a 3-2 roll call vote to grant the reimbursement due to a breakdown in the processes used to determine whether an item should be accepted.         

Courthouse security

Coordinator and auditor-treasurer Bobbie Vickerman updated the board on the courthouse’s security project, relating that the wiring for cameras and other systems has been underway this week and that further measures will be completed by the beginning of April.  She pointed out that the county would do well to pare down the number of people included in the courthouse security committee -- after contributions from department heads – to expedite the work of getting courthouse security equipment and personnel ready. 

She then talked about the structure of the auditor-treasurer’s office and possibly delegating some tasks to middle management positions that would help oversee particular duties because she feels that there needs to be some level of expertise within the department so that auditor-treasurer’s office can function more efficiently. 

She observed that while the department has carried out its business using the same model for the past several years, changing times have brought to light the necessity for change within the department.  She added that even though she has agreed to be auditor-treasurer for this year only, there is a need to begin preparing to further equip employees with the authority and skills they need to do their jobs, as other departments have employees in assistant management positions ready to take over if the department head is unavailable. 

The commissioners concurred that the conversation could continue at the committee level and be brought back at a future time.  

Hazardous waste

Solid waste administrator Drew Hatzenbihler brought forward a contract renewal between Winona and Fillmore counties for the operation of a household hazardous waste management program, a request to purchase a steel belt conveyor and permission for the associated installation costs at the recycling center, another request for an upgrade for efficient lighting at the resource recovery and recycling buildings, and also a new scale system for the center’s Case wheel loader. 

County 1 project

Highway engineer Ron Gregg asked for the adoption of the right of way plats from the reconstruction of County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1 between the north city limits of Spring Valley and the north Fillmore County line, in order for the rights of way to be properly recorded with the county recorder’s office.  The commissioners voted in favor. 

Gregg added that there will be a landowner meeting set for March 27 to help residents who live along County 1 prepare for the upcoming paving project, and also that with the delivery of new electronic message boards this spring, this summer’s road closure will be posted to notify motorists that they cannot travel on County 1. 

Other business

Feedlot officer Mike Frauenkron gave his department’s 2017 annual report, financial statement and a follow-up letter regarding the annual report, asking for approval of the report.  Bakke made a motion to accept the report, and following another commissioner’s second, the report was approved. 

Human resources officer Kristina Kohn brought to the board the resignation of intermittent deputy Steven Schmeideberg effective Jan. 26, along with the first reading of proposed updates to the dress code policy and to the employee performance evaluation policy.  The dress code policy’s proposed updates included language to make the policy more gender-neutral, and only a small language change was cited for the performance evaluation policy.     

Administrative items encompassed payment of the $41,039 SHI International Corporation invoice for renewal of the Nov. 1, 2017, through Oct. 31, 2018, Microsoft assurances, or for computer support.  The consent agenda included approving the minutes of the Jan. 23 board minutes, granting completion of probation for custodian Chris Larson, effective Feb. 10, and completion of probation for maintenance specialist Adam Hanson, effective Feb. 23. 

Rep. Greg Davids and Sen. Jeremy Miller heard the department heads’ annual legislative priority requests during the Feb. 6 meeting and gave updates on what they hope will come during the upcoming legislative session.