Commissioners discuss union matters

Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

On August 1, Houston County Sheriff Mark Inglett spoke with county commissioners about an incident that occured the previous day – when a pair of La Crescent police officers were shot at before and during a high speed car chase.

“At this time I can’t disclose much…” Inglett said, citing an ongoing probe into the matter by the BCA (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension). “The only thing I can say is that there were no deputies directly involved with the pursuit, or the shots being fired.

“There were no injuries, no damage (to county employees or equipment),” he added.

Inglett was on hand for some personnel matters. One of those was changing jailer/dispatcher Chad Ready’s employment status from probationary to regular, effective August 3. Ready dispatched law enforcement to the scene as the shooting/chase unfolded, and “did a phenomenal job,” Inglett said. “He even received compliments from the state patrol.”   

There were several other votes. Sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Smith was formally appointed to the rank of investigator, effective June 26, 2017, the date when he was originally assigned those duties by Inglett.

“The union and I had a disagreement on the interpretation of the contract as far as this position, so it took some time to work through that,” the sheriff stated. “Meanwhile, I had to appoint somebody to that, position, because it had been three months vacant.

The board went into closed session to discuss a memorandum of understanding with Law Enforcement Labor Services Local #237 on how the investigator’s position will be filled, and other union-related issues such as the pay rate for the investigator, a proposal to allow lieutenants to form their own bargaining unit, and upcoming contract negotiations.

When the meeting resumed, commissioners voted to approve the MOU on how the job will be filled, a pay raise of 5% for deputies who accept the position, and the additional bargaining unit.

In other personnel news, the board approved the appointment/promotion of social worker Lisa Arneson to the new position of probationary adult and disability services lead social worker, effective August 6, 2017.

Two mines petition for expansion

Zoning administrator Aaron Lacher reported that two Environmental Assessment Worksheets are now available for viewing online at co.houston.mn.us/Public_Notices.aspx. Those documents refer to proposals from Skyline Materials, Ltd. and J & C Farms Inc. to expand both the Winnebago and Underpass quarries, respectively.

Public comments are now being taken on both documents.

The 30-day comment period was set to begin on Monday, August 7 (when the proposals are published by the EQB Monitor), Lacher stated.

“Comments will be accepted by my office, and in consultation with our third-party consultant, we would prepare a draft response to the comments and forward those to the board,” Lacher said. “The board would ultimately need to make a decision on the necessity of further environmental investigation, or approving the EAWs as an adequate assessment of the potential impacts.”

“That would then move both of these projects to the CUP (conditional use permit) stage.”

Other news

County engineer Brian Pogodzinski brought two items to the board, both of which were approved. The first was an offer from Zenke Auction and Realty to sell the county two used “pup trailers” to haul materials such as sand and gravel. The cost (with trade-in allowance on a pair of trailers that date from 1967 and 1969) was $12,000. The second item was an offer from Dunn Blacktop (Winona) to patch five areas along county roads 27 and 12 for $11,887.

Commissioners also approved an agreement with Jake Lonkoski to continue to manage Wildcat Park in 2018, and – on a related note – voted to thank Barb Kirchoff “for her many years of service” to the Wildcat Park Committee.