County Board makes quick work of lean agenda

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


It was slim pickings for the Houston County Board Nov. 12 when they met to discuss a rather short agenda.


Human Resources

Interim Public Health Director Mary Thompson and Human Resources Director Tess Arrick-Kruger presented a recommendation to shift some work in the department and boost two Public Health positions from 0.8 FTE to 1.0. The increase in work time – and salary – will be fully covered by state grants.

“We want to look at the whole big picture. There’s a lot of revenue we’re missing out on,” Arrick-Kruger explained.

Fueling the opportunity is a Statewide Health Improvement Program grant.

“I think this a prudent way of doing things,” Arrick-Kruger said. “The amount of increased services in preventative work that could be done is almost limitless.”

Approval was given through Dec. 31, 2015, after which time the board can reconvene on the matter and make sure state money is still supporting the positions.

Also presented from the Human Resources Department was a request to replace an outgoing 67-day, temporary drop-site supervisor. The request was met with approval.

Finally, efforts to update the historical Houston County Courthouse continue to unfold, and county representatives will plea their case before the Senate Bonding Committee in Winona in the coming weeks. The same presentation, or request, was already given to the House Capital Investment Committee. This final meeting allows both arms of state government to hear about $500,000 in repairs needed at the courthouse.


Highway Department

Final payment on four Highway Department projects were approved, and included:

• $214,000 on a bridge reconstruction project on County 22 just south of Highway 16.

• $435,800 for two bridges on Day Valley Road.

• $442,900 for a  bridge replacement on Swede Bottom Road.

• Approximately $5,000 on work on County 5 from a couple of years ago. Payment was temporarily withheld, pending Civil Rights Office paperwork, which was eventually resolved.

The board also approved a grant agreement for work on the airport runway. The total cost was $468,000 with the federal government paying almost 96 percent. Houston County’s portion ran about $15,300.



With 83 percent of the county’s fiscal year complete, the board was content to see that the monthly budget update yielded no significant surprises.

“It’s the typical scenario much like we saw last month,” Finance Director Carol Lapham reported, adding that the November report will provide a better picture of the year. This report was generated as of Oct. 31.

Commissioner Justin Zmyewski wanted to know if the county’s general fund has ever been replenished from the years when the county dipped into savings to offset a levy increase. Lapham said approximately $78,000 was returned at the end of 2012, but that there was no extra beyond that.

“We haven’t had excess to rebuild the general fund at this time,” she said.



The board made quick action of reappointing Robert Mierau to the Crooked Creek Watershed Board for a three-year term, which will expire Nov. 30, 2016.