Fairgrounds need attention

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


It’s not a good thing to have boards falling from the rafters during a tour but that’s literally what happened when members of the Houston County Fair Board inspected the hog and sheep barns. The Fair Board wants to replace the two structures, which date back to the 1920s. Eldon Pohlman  reported on the matter during the Nov. 5 Houston County Board meeting.

Because the buildings are on county land, the two entities have to work together on such projects. The County Board also provides the Fair Board funds each year to keep the massive event going.

“We’ve been looking in the past year or two at the sheep barn and also the hog barn. The sheep barn had a couple members walk in and a piece of lumber fell down behind them. It made them realize we got some issues,” Pohlman said.

A committee was formed to work out the numbers and estimates $225,000 will be needed. Pohlman said in addition to needing the county’s consent to rebuild and/or fix the structures, the board is hoping to use the county’s 501(c)(3) status to apply for special funding.

County Board Commissioner Steve Schuldt said the county is not a non-profit and does not have that tax designation. He suggested the Fair Board speak to an attorney about attaining the proper IRS status.

Pohlman agreed that would be a good idea and also asked if bonding would be possible through the county. “No bank will deal with us being it’s not on our land,” he said.

Finance Director Carol Lapham said she could look into that with the auditors.

Pohlman said the Fair Board takes in up to $10,000 a year in winter rental fees to help offset expenses.

“We appreciate what the county does for us. We do spend time as a fair board going to other fairs, and I think you’ll find we do a heck of a job,” he concluded.

The discussion was informative in nature and required no action.



Environmental Services Director Rick Frank presented several grant agreements for board approval. The grants are given by the state for the county’s feed lot, water management, wetland, shoreland and septic system programs. A little over $89,000 is provided by the state to help administer the programs, and all require some sort of local match except the septic system program. Frank said the county is audited “all the time to make sure we are administering and documenting those efforts.”

The agreements were approved.



In a separate matter, Frank informed the board that the county’s electronic waste contractor has announced changes and will start charging for its service.

Frank said over the last two years the county was able to dispose of this waste for free due to demand for recycled components from items like computers. That demand has shifted. “With markets, gas and overhead they now want us to pay,” Frank said.

He is seeking proposals from other providers and will come back to the board with options.


Plan Commission

The County Plan Commission met on Oct. 24 and recommended approval of an interim use permit for the Frydenlund Family Trust in Black Hammer Township for non-commercial family cabins.

The recommendation comes with stipulations, including working with fire safety crews to make sure adequate access exists to the site, working with the DNR to flood proof the area while also addressing septic system issues.

The recommendation received a unanimous nod.

Also receiving approval was a conditional use renewal from Van Lin Orchards for seasonal dwellings. The homes are occupied during apple picking season and have been since 2005.

“From my understanding we’ve never had a problem with those,” Frank said, speaking on behalf of Zoning Director Bob Scanlan, who was absent.

A list of zoning permits were also approved. Please see chart.


Other business

Several other items gained board approval.

• The board agreed to hire Jason Quandahl as a lead jailer/dispatcher, effective Dec. 15. This action is a direct result of the upcoming retirement of Gary Bubbers.


• The board agreed to hire Matthew Mackie as a full-time jailer/dispatcher, effective Dec. 15, to replace the vacancy created by the promotion of Quandahl.

• The board agreed to hire Kirby Fitzpatrick as a case aid for Human Services, effective Nov. 18.

• Via teleconference, the Joint Board of Public Health for Houston and Fillmore counties named Lantha Stevens, Fillmore County director of nursing, interim director of the joint board in light of Deb Rock’s resignation.

• The board approved a two-year medical examiner contract with Mayo Clinic. The contract extends to Jan. 31, 2015, and includes no per capita increase in 2014 and a 3 percent per capita increase to $2.83 in 2015. Cremation services will also increase by $5 per case.

• A professional services contract was approved with Wabasha County, as is now customary anytime Houston County offers a neighboring county assistance. The agreement covers liability. In this instance, Houston County Social Services Supervisor Tim Hunter will offer expertise while Wabasha County replaces a staff member.

• Two flood related road projects were finalized, including $16,800 for work on County 249 and $6,600 on County 32.

• Finally, it was reported that the county land lease auction garnered $240 per acre and went to Eric Johnson. The last three-year land lease went for $375 per acre.

Houston County October Zoning Permits

Craig Stables – Brownsville Township, add two lean-to additions to existing shed

Richard Snow – Houston Township, build pole shed

Marilyn Flannery – Brownsville Township, build deck

Mike and Cindy Bolduan – Union Township, build shop

Rodney and Mary Amundson – Spring Grove Township, build attached garage with mudroom

Jeff and Kelly Mauss – Mayville Township, build garage and breezeway

Charles Kruse – Winnebago Township, build machinery shed

Bruce and Shannon Schuttemeier – Spring Grove Township, build entryway and two porches

Darryl Sharon – Winnebago Township, build attached garage

Norman Lemke – Mayville Township, build pole shed

Randy Klinski – Caledonia Township, build storage shed

Hoyt and Cheryl Zenke – Mayville Township, build storage shed

Rick Sime – Houston Township, build house and garage

Norbert Staggemeyer Trust – Winnebago Township, substantial land alteration – 16,800 yards – NRCS approved plan