SHIP, TZD grants could help communities install portable speed signs in high traffic areas

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS New District 3 Fillmore County Commissioner Larry Hindt participates in the Aug. 27 county board meeting. Hindt was sworn in on Thursday, Aug. 22.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Fillmore County’s board of commissioners welcomed a new member during the Tuesday, Aug. 27, meeting. An election for District 3 resulted in Larry Hindt of Spring Valley being elected to the empty seat left by Gary Peterson of Spring Valley, who resigned last year due to health concerns. 

Director of Nursing Jessica Erickson had four items for the commissioners’ review, beginning with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) update, followed by the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) update and a related resolution, news about breastfeeding peer counselor opportunities, and about community health board (CHB) funding. 

Public Health Educator Brenda Pohlman accompanied Erickson, who stated, “The SHIP grant cycle is going to end…there is a rollover this year, but we are planning to expend the funds. And whatever we can’t fund this year, we’ll fund it starting in November.” 

She pointed out that the list of SHIP projects the nursing department has planned for her department and in cooperation with other departments includes staffing for public health, hydration stations in Harmony, and shelving and refrigerators for food shelves, among other items. 

Highway Engineer Ron Gregg joined the pair in addressing the commissioners as Pohlman said, “There’s a pretty significant need for controlling some speeds.  We get that request on a pretty regular basis.  We have provided a proposal regarding trying to mitigate some speed issues.  This is part of the TZD project, but also, SHIP plays into that as well.  Ron and also Sheriff (John) DeGeorge…we have worked with them on a portable signage project that’s moved around the county as needed, and we’re offering that same resource option out to schools.  We like to see it paired with education and enforcement. “

She explained that SHIP will pay for the portable signage if it does not have a solar component – the partner city will pay for the difference if they want solar instead of battery-powered, and that would be a $1,000 fee.

Gregg remarked that two school districts have shown interest in having the flashing speed limit signs posted outside their buildings because they are situated on county roads that have high traffic – Kingsland in Spring Valley, and Fillmore Central High School in Harmony. 

Pohlman added, “We do have some signage interest in Harmony, and Chatfield is pursuing Safe Routes to School.  We can put this out to all the school districts as an application, and they would have to pay the difference if they want a solar option, and they also would have to provide us with all the data.  We’d include some kind of enforcement patrolling in that area so that it would have some teeth, some type of strategy, because the sign there by itself…people can get ‘sign blind’.” 

The commissioners heard Gregg’s further recommendations about where signs might be useful.  The board passed an annual TZD grant resolution – by motion of Commissioner Randy Dahl and Commissioner Marc Prestby – to accept TZD funds made available.          

The meeting was interrupted at 10 a.m. when Commissioner Duane Bakke called for the board to hold a planned closed session pursuant to M.S. 13D.03 for Local #85 Law Enforcement Labor Services (LELS) labor contract strategy session, announcing that the agenda was full but that the board would not likely finish the day’s business due to negotiations with the union and the commissioners being scheduled to be in Mabel by early afternoon for another engagement. 

Zoning Administrator Cristal Adkins brought forward access permit requests for field drives at Johnson’s Rolling Acres in Norway Township, for Arlo Warnke in Harmony Township, and driveway and field drive expansions for Debra and Judith Kramer in Carimona Township.  The commissioners briefly questioned who brought in the application for Johnson’s Rolling Acres, as there was some concern regarding whether everyone in the farming operation had agreed to the application’s submission, but Adkins assured the board that the farm’s owner had personally submitted the application, and all permits were granted. 

Other business

In other business, County Attorney Brett Corson reviewed his office’s role and responsibilities as related to the opening of a veterans court in Fillmore County, after which he gave a proposal for his department’s 2020 budget.  Additionally, assessor Brian Hoff shared his proposed 2020 budget. 

Also on the agenda were Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn to present several personnel matters. This included the resignation of social worker Kurt Njos – effective Aug. 23, and a request to replace Njos through an internal transfer made effective Sept. 30. This also included a request to advertise for a replacement social worker and registered nurse in the public health department. Kohn also was to present the resignation of Deputy Samantha Keasling – effective Sept. 2 – and the internal posting of her job. Finally, she also requested to replace a full-time dispatcher position effective Sept. 9.

The agenda also included County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman being set to present the proposed 2020 budgets for general government, the board of commissioners, policy coordinator and other general government.  She also had information regarding possible shifts in board member committee appointments now that the board is complete with Hindt’s arrival.  

The consent agenda included renewing the liquor, wine, club or 3.2 license for Serenity Hills, LLC, for Sept. 29, 2019, through Sept. 29, 2020, as approved by the sheriff and county attorney. Also approved were the renewal of tobacco licenses for Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020, for Casey’s Retail Store, Family Dollar, American Legion Post #526, Gureck Inc. doing business as Cenex Gas Station, Kwik Trip, Preston Motor Mart, Shooters of Wykoff and Goodies & Gas.