In a brief meeting of the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, July 9, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) President Tim Penny presented a review of SMIF's work in the county in 2012. These contributions come in many forms, relating to economic development, community support and early childhood support.

Penny said the foundation expended over $5 million in a 20-county region of southeast Minnesota. Since beginning to work in Fillmore County in 1990, SMIF has invested roughly $3.1 million. This money has gone toward grants for early childhood programs, BookStart programs and AmeriCorps partnerships. The Chatfield School YES! Program, Lanesboro Local, Fillmore County's "Early Childhood Initiative," and Grace Place, the Rushford Outreach, were all supported in 2012.

With the 2012 addition of Harmony, the county now has five area community foundations for which SMIF acts as a 501(c)3 fiscal agent. These area foundations are able to support local projects and non-profit organizations through locally-grown funds managed by SMIF.

Penny said SMIF was the invisible person working behind the scenes to take care of reporting, paperwork, investing and other things. SMIF also provides matching dollars for grants.

Commissioner Chair Randy Dahl said SMIF's efforts really made a difference.

Commissioner Duane Bakke highlighted the benefit of having community foundations and how they wouldn't be there if SMIF wasn't coordinating many of details.

Penny highlighted a fundraising competition effort between the cities of Spring Valley and Preston that brought in a one-day total of $17,000 during Give to the Max Day in November.

Penny told the board of a new program soon to be implemented, which would allow people to donate land to SMIF.

"We would then use the land and convert the land's wealth to benefit the region," he explained. "A bulk of the wealth in this area is tied up in the land. It's a way for folks to make a perpetual gift."

He also spoke on a parent training program, which educates parents on several early childhood development skills. The four-session program goes directly to the parents' workplaces and holds the sessions during lunch.

Following expressed interest by Bakke to have similar programs made available to Fillmore County, Penny said he would reach out to contacts to see when SMIF could bring in educators. "It helps parents become better and in turn prepare their child for kindergarten," stated Bakke.

Stateline Motel cleanup

County Attorney Brett Corson updated the board on the cleanup of the old Stateline Motel building in Prosper, just east of Canton, which was suspected of containing a clandestine chemical substance lab.

Corson said that through working with the landowner, the site was cleaned, re-tested and passed Minnesota Department of Public Health standards.

Approximately $2,400 were assessed to the property to pay costs relating to the project.

Commissioner Marc Prestby asked if that amount was lower than the actual cost of the project.

Corson said the landowner paid for the cleanup and the project ended up costing less than anticipated.

Prestby asked if man-hour costs were taken into account. Corson said they could be assessed to the property.

Bakke asked if the property was properly zoned. When told it was zoned commercial, he said the building could be used for a lot of things. Corson said potential buyers would be made aware of the site's cleanup

Other business

In other business, the commissioners discussed the following issues.

• The board approved two agreements with new sheriff's office record management and dispatch software vendor LETG for software and maintenance/support licensing.

• Due to no internal applicants for the vacant deputy position in the sheriff's department, the board approved the position to be advertised externally.

• Kristina Kohn, from the human resources department, received approval for a request to stop looking for a Public Health nurse because no qualified applicants came forward. Instead, Kohn asked the board to approve an opening for a registered nurse in the Community Services-Public Health Division. The RN would not be able to fill all the responsibilities of the Public Health nurse. The board also approved the hire of a replacement accounting technician.

• In administrative action, the board approved a resolution for a Point Source Implementation Grant application for the Greenleafton septic system project. They also authorized a signature to that application.

• In their consent agenda, the board approved the closure of County Road 1 between South Street and Third Street in Ostrander for Uffda Days on Aug. 2. The board also approved street closures proposed by the city of Preston for Fillmore Street from Pleasant Street to Houston Street and St. Paul Street from Fillmore Street to Main Street on July 28.