The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners convened with a busy agenda this past Tuesday morning.

Planning and zoning business was addressed first as Fillmore County Zoning Administrator Chris Graves spoke about the former State Line Motel near Prosper and an application for the property's rezoning.

Todd and Amy Soiney, the new owners, wish to convert it into a multi-family dwelling to be used as housing for their farm workers.

The commissioners acknowledged the property's past as they heard Graves's presentation on it.

Graves stated, "They'd like to convert it to R-1 multi-family housing. I know we were trying to get away from spot zoning, but this fits in the ordinance and is allowed."

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud commented, "The planning and zoning committee might want to re-look at that part of the ordinance and clarify the language. I know the property was used for other items in the past that were questionable and we'd like to limit it to no more than six units, with no more than seven bedrooms, with the condition that there be immediate eviction of anyone found using, selling or manufacturing drugs...that should be in the conditional use permit (CUP)."

The commissioners voted to approve the rezoning of the property and the conditional use permit associated with it.

Human resources

Next, human resources officer Kristina Kohn presented a draft for a dress code and an update on an office support specialist's position.

Consideration of the dress code was short - Kohn said that it was meant to give department heads authority to decide what is appropriate for their employees, such as in the case of home health workers not wearing dress clothes to work.

Commissioner Randy Dahl joked, "I'm wearing clothes. What more do you want?"

Discussion regarding the hiring of the office support specialist was lengthy, as Commissioner Tom Kaase questioned the process since it involves the hiring of temporary staff.

Kohn said the human resources department has been working to fill the position since October, but no offer has been made.

Kaase noted his concerns centered on how the conversation might shift to include candidates' personal information. "With the concerns I've brought up, I've requested that we go to a closed meeting. We're in a gray area...I don't like that we're not going to have an open, candid conversation...about using an outside agency to hire temporary employees."

Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson countered that the board likely could have an open conversation about the matter, but that it would likely come about over the course of time.

Amunrud said, "As part of the hiring committee, we agreed to put a few weeks of discovery into this. The hiring committee defers to department heads for advice about the candidates they want to hire, and the department heads have the authority to pick."

Kaase explained his position, saying, "We've got good quality candidates, so that's not the issue, but if there's a person currently in the position, if we've got a person doing the job and if they're not the final one selected, we're saying, 'You're good enough while we needed you, but now you're not,' and if a person isn't good enough, then why would we be keeping them around? As a body to fill a job? That's partly why I asked for a closed meeting."

Corson stated he could "do more research" on the possibility of holding a closed meeting, but also that he felt it still wouldn't be likely.

Activity group

County coordinator Bobbie Vickerman asked permission to form an activity group that would meet during work hours for courthouse employees to plan inter-departmental activities, such as grill-outs and Christmas parties that would encourage county employees to get to know one another.

The board agreed that forming such a committee might improve communications.

Commissioner Duane Bakke stated, "It's about getting everybody to know everybody, because we're so compartmentalized."

Phone systems

Next, the coordinator presented courthouse phone system repair options that would fix the courthouse's vexing speed dial problems.

Vickerman outlined the costs, relating that the costs might reach up to $1,200 and that the costs would be recouped within a matter of two months since the savings would be nearly $700 each month.

The board approved the repairs up to that amount.

Technology needs

Fillmore County Veterans' Affairs Officer Jason Marquardt and Community Services director Beth Wilms sat before the commissioners to ask that a purchase of a Microsoft tablet, a printer, scanner and new office shredder be allowed since the department received a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Veterans' Affairs (MNDVA).

The grant funds must be spent within the next five months, so instead of being able to bring forward a five-year plan as originally hoped, according to Wilms, the office chose to make the purchases in order to use the funds, rather than returning them to the state.

Commissioner Randy Dahl observed, "The grant has allowed us to purchase things that have been needed."

Other business

• Fillmore County Director of Nursing Lantha Stevens spoke about the payment of annual dues to the Minnesota Home Care Association, an organization that benefits in-home workers who assist residents. "This keeps us up to date with Medicare," she commented, pointing out the county also needed to renew its Medicare licensure at a cost of $2,337.50, which the board approved.

• Commissioners accepted the 2013 pay equity implementation report.

• The board of equalization and appeals meeting was set for Tuesday, June 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the county boardroom.

• The board approved an application for the county employees' annual wellness grant from the Southeast Service Cooperative in the amount of $2,490, slightly more than last year's $2,250.