County Board to take look at jail needs

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Late-November housekeeping kept the Fillmore County commissioners busy this past Tuesday, Nov. 26, during a regular meeting, including the move to take a look at the status of the county jail.    

The commissioners gave their nod to signing a contract with independent contractor Tom Weber for assistance in conducting a needs study for the county jail, as noted in the draft minutes of the meeting. The jail came up at a meeting in August when Sheriff John DeGeorge talked to the commissioners about the jail, which is the second oldest in Minnesota.

“We’ve talked about it in law enforcement committee, and we’re going to have to start making decisions about what’s next for our jail,” he said in August. “I think the next step is continuing to maintain the jail, but every time something comes up, we have to ask that question, knowing that the Department of Corrections…it’s the way the building is built. We just can’t continue to fix things. We’ve got to come up with a better solution.”

DeGeorge had quite a few other things for the board’s consideration, beginning with vehicle and equipment updates and upgrades.  Commissioners Randy Dahl and Mitch Lentz offered motions to approve the lease of a 2019 Dodge Charger all-wheel drive administration car at a capitalized amount of $24,846 – a monthly lease of $465.48 with an additional $48.27 for a full maintenance program, totaling $513.75. 

DeGeorge also outlined a three-year service contract with Motorola for 2017 through 2019 for the immediate replacement of the dispatch and 911 console with unpaid invoices for 2018 and 2019 to be paid.  Lentz and Dahl made the motions to upgrade the dispatch logger at a cost of $5,480 to Northland Business Systems, with the money coming from 911 grant funds, and went on to approve the county’s 2019 emergency operations plan. 

The board also gave permission for out of state travel for sergeants Jessy Betts and Derek Fuglestad to attend active integrated response training in Springfield, Illinois, from Dec. 16 to Dec. 20. 

County coordinator — now-administrator – Bobbie Vickerman brought forward the AS400 server hosting options for the county’s data infrastructure as presented at previous meetings – choosing CPS Technology Solutions to replace the existing system.

She also asked the board to approve the list of Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) voting delegates and policy committee representatives for the AMC annual meeting taking place Dec. 9 through Dec. 11 – naming Lentz, Commissioner Duane Bakke and Dahl as commissioners representing the county, highway engineer Ron Gregg as fourth on the list, Vickerman as fifth, Auditor-Treasurer Heidi Jones as sixth, social services director Kevin Olson as the seventh delegate, and director of nursing Jessica Erickson as eighth delegate.  AMC policy committee representatives include Vickerman for general government and taxes, Dahl for health and human services, Bakke for environmental and natural resources, Lentz as public safety delegate, and Gregg as transportation and infrastructure delegate. 

Vickerman was then named the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) voting delegate for MCIT’s annual meeting, with Bakke as alternate delegate, after which the board acknowledged receipt of MCIT dividends disbursed to counties as an insurance benefit. 

In other action, Dahl and Lentz made motions to approve the administrator’s position as that which will function as clerk of the board, with the commissioners voting in favor. 

Finally, the board unanimously approved the 2020 employees’ wellness plan, which encourages employees to participate in activities that support their physical, emotional and mental health.       

In other matters, Erickson held a brief discussion regarding the grant funding formula for the Fillmore-Houston Community Health Board, and in his committee reports, Bakke shared that the Fillmore County Historical Society is moving forward with new policies and procedures regarding its operation, and is also working to offer new programming.  He added that the county employees’ wellness plan and events include the annual ugly Christmas sweater contest and potluck just before Christmas to keep everyone feeling jolly.  

Bakke accepted motions by Dahl and Lentz to close the meeting at 10:49 a.m. — pursuant to Minn. Statute 13D.05, subd.3 (b) based on attorney-client privilege regarding citizen tax appeal – and property appraiser Brian Hoff and county attorney Brett Corson joined the gallery for the proceedings.  The meeting was reopened exactly half an hour later, with the board announcing that the county attorney would be authorized to hire an independent appraiser for the two property appraiser or tax appeal cases brought before them.   

The consent agenda included approving the minutes of the Nov. 5 County Board meeting and granting permission for account technician Kayla Pierce to attend the 2020 Minnesota Association of Assessment Officers (MAAO) assessment laws and procedures with ethics workshop.