County moves forward with effort to place public notices online

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


With unanimous approval, the Houston County Board adopted Resolution No. 14, which  supports legislation that would allow counties to use their websites to publish public notices, during its Feb. 25 regular meeting.

The Caledonia Argus had lobbied against the resolution during the board’s Feb. 18 meeting, saying the resolution, “contains slippery wording that at first glance seems innocuous. Under the guise of cost savings, this loophole could be used to shut the public out of information that can be of keen interest to citizens, especially those without Internet access.”

The board put off voting on the item to have time to consider the resolution’s language, but came back fully supporting the document as presented.

“After the last meeting, Char (the county auditor) and I met to discuss that – and read through it in great detail – and I feel very comfortable adopting this to send to Legislature,” Commissioner Teresa Walter said.

The Minnesota Senate’s State and Local Government Committee held a preliminary hearing on the measure Feb. 26, during which time over 90 minutes of testimony was heard. The committee decided not to vote on the bill, and instead laid it over indefinitely.


Bridge contract

In other news, the board agreed to award a bridge repair contract to Griffin Construction in the amount of $123,000. This is the last of a series of repairs due to the June 2013 flood, and the project will be  entirely covered by state and federal funds. There were three bidders on the project with the final bid coming in approximately $23,000 under projected cost.


City partnership

A cooperative agreement with the city of Caledonia was approved for work on County 5 set to take place this summer. The agreement outlines the cost share and acknowledges a revision that has the state paying 100 percent of storm sewer costs.

“It looks good for everybody,” Commissioner Judy Storlie said.


Snow removal

Commissioner Steve Schuldt asked County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski how the county was doing on its snow removal budget. Pogodzinski said there has been a lot of overtime but that he did not have an exact figure prepared.

Pogodzinski added that the salt supply is OK for now, but it might be a problem next fall if there’s an early frost.

Storlie said she was very grateful for the Highway Department’s efforts this winter.

“Please pass on that we appreciate all their hours. It’s been a cruddy winter,” she said.


Scenic drive

Commissioners Schuldt and Dana Kjome said they were contacted by a Spring Grove City Council member who wanted to know what it would take to create a formal scenic drive between Caledonia, Houston and Spring Grove.

“She sees it as a benefit between the businesses in these communities,” Schuldt said.

Pogodzinski said he thought the state would get involved but said he would look into the matter for additional information.


Human resources

Human Resources Director Tess Arrick-Kruger presented two items for approval.

The first request was for a change in employment status for Maria Stemper, Human Services financial worker, from probationary to regular. The request was approved.

The second request was for a mobile device stipend for the new Public Health director. That request also gained approval.