County board approves equipment purchases

Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

On April 25, Houston County commissioners reviewed four options to provide equipment repairs and replacements for their highway department. County engineer Brian Pogodzinski brought the request, which included some shuffling and sharing of equipment with other departments. For example, one replacement truck will actually go to the zoning department (for the county’s recycling program), while a used SUV would be transferred to the sheriff’s office.

The board chose “option four” from the list, which included repairing a 2008 backhoe rather than buying new, the purchase of one new heavy truck with plow and box (estimated at $239,836), three pickup replacements, a new sign truck, leasing a tractor, buying a small SUV, and the transfer of another SUV to the sheriff as well as the purchase for recycling. The total estimated cost is $519,793, which is $18,425 less than the amount budgeted for 2017. There was a single “no” vote on the measure from commissioner Justin Zmyewski.

Pogodzinski also got board approval to purchase the same amount of salt as last year utilizing the state bid process, accepting an offer from low-bidder Bluff Country Brine (Coon Valley, Wis.) to provide calcium chloride (for dust control), the annual acceptance of all aggregate stockpile offers throughout the county, and equipment rental rates for machinery used in road maintenance.

On a related note, commissioners accepted the retirement of highway maintenance foreman Thomas Molling with thanks for his 26 ½ years of service (effective April 28).

Buffers expected on Houston County farms

Root River Soil and Water district manager Dave Walter also appeared with environmental services director Rick Frank. The pair discussed impending state regulations which will require buffer strips along Houston County waterways.

Walter said that the board has until July 1 to decide if the county will enforce the new regulations, or if that task will fall to the BWSR (Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources). The state has not yet provided exact figures on reimbursements for counties to enforce the regulations, but those numbers should be available by the end of May, the pair reported.

Frank said that the county does not have additional resources to provide the added work on a matching grant basis, but Walter stated that reimbursements will probably be available without added county expense. “It’s nice to be compensated for the work you do,” he said.

Right now, an estimated 77% of Houston County is already in compliance with the buffers, Walter noted. “Yes, there will be a few of those (compliance) issues that will come up,” he added.

County EDA reports in

Houston County EDA director Courtney Bergey asked commissioners to approve an RFP (request for proposal) for website design, development, and implementation services.

“The goal of the website is to create an attractive, user-friendly space to direct potential guests, residents, and entrepreneurs of Houston County,” she stated. Content will be developed by “a task force of local marketing and business professionals,” local chambers of commerce, the EDA board, and site developers led by EDA staff, Bergey stated in a written memo.

The Houston County EDA currently has $5,500 budgeted for 2017 marketing.