By Emily Bialkowski
The Houston County Board was greeted with some positive news by Gerry Krage of the Bluff Country Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) at their Sept. 3 board meeting. Krage’s organization was founded in 1991 with the sole purpose of addressing substandard living arrangements for low-income individuals in Houston and Fillmore Counties. Since its inception, Bluff Country HRA has brought to fruition several projects that provide affordable housing, such as the Brownsville housing complex, Spring Grove’s Four Season Acres and a new development in the Preston area called Vesterheim.
Houston County contributed $5,000 to Bluff Country this year with the same appropriation expected in 2014. Commissioner Judy Storlie sits on the four-member board that governs the non-profit.
The positive news is that the agency continues to pursue opportunities in both counties.
“We’re always looking for the next biggest project,” Krage said. “It takes multiple years but once you get a foothold and have successes then [other agencies] want to start putting more money into southeastern Minnesota.”
The presentation was informative in nature and required no decision.
The board addressed several housekeeping matters before adjourning, which included:
• Approving a $7,560 bid from Structures Unlimited to bring the Spring Grove rock shed roof up to state code for snow and wind loads. The facility is needed and used by the county highway department and fell victim to an unscrupulous contractor when it was first built. The contractor has since gone out of business.
• Approving a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help pay for the airport runway overlay project. The FAA is committing approximately $447,988 to the project, while the county’s portion will fall around $17,000.
• Approving the resignation of halftime jailer/dispatcher Carl Eberle, who found full-time work elsewhere. The county will likely fill the position from a pool of candidates attained in late July/early August from a similar job posting.
• Approving Bonnie Felten as a temporary office support specialist for the Human Services Department as they work on filling the vacant case aide position.
• Approving a 2.8 percent price increase on the food service contract for the jail, which the board has very little control over.
• The board was also reminded that a 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30 public hearing has been set to hear constituent comments on term limits for Planning and Zoning commissioners. The hearing will take place in the commissioners room in the courthouse.