Former senator Jerome Gunderson of Mabel speaks to the Fillmore County commissioners regarding frac sand mining during their Oct. 9 meeting.
Former senator Jerome Gunderson of Mabel speaks to the Fillmore County commissioners regarding frac sand mining during their Oct. 9 meeting.
Former senator Jerome Gunderson of Mabel spoke during the citizens' input portion of the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners' Oct. 9 meeting, expressing his "concern for free enterprise" in regard to the proposed frac sand mining operation that is under county consideration.

"I'm here about frac sand. I haven't any connections with it - this is entirely based on what I've been reading and seeing in the news - and as far as aesthetics, we have one of the bigger rock quarries in southeast Minnesota near Harmony. This is making comparisons ... but I think everybody here played in the sandbox, and I don't think it makes a lot of difference what kind of sand."

Gunderson expressed his view on the idea that sand trucks using county roads would ruin said roads, and he stated that he watches grain trucks hauling past his house on a daily basis, causing damage to the roads.

He continued, "I understand that they process the sand with chemicals, and it's just like farming - we use lots of chemicals, like fertilizer, insecticide and herbicide to produce what we need. It's important that we adapt. I'm concerned about free enterprise. I think we have to look at this, and I think that many people who are complaining about sand pits are the people who don't have sand pits and want one.

"Fillmore County hasn't progressed because it's too conservative ... we want to follow behind and do what Dad and Grandpa did. When I was in the Senate, I proposed a bike trail here, and you wouldn't believe how many people didn't want it. It's here now, and it's brought millions into the county in income. Sand is sand, whether you call it 'frac sand' or 'silica sand.' Let's look at this from a standpoint of free enterprise."

Human resources manager Kristina Kohn brought forward a list of personnel and insurance items for the commissioners to consider. They approved the hiring of Randy Brevig of Preston as a transfer station attendant effective Oct. 26 and Laura Weichmann as a merit office support specialist for the community services department, also effective Oct. 26.

The commissioners approved renewing the Blue Cross Blue Shield employee insurance plan for 2013. The board members reviewed the county's monthly contribution for 2013 of $756.34 for single employees and $1,478.72 for family health insurance. They opted to renew the Senior Gold insurance plan - paid entirely by county retirees and now nationally portable for snowbirds - at a lower rate of $309.50 per month for those who are eligible for Medicare. The SelectAccount care plan was also renewed at 2012 rates.

Basic life coverage with Minnesota Life was renewed at the same rates as were voluntary plans through Ochs Agency. This included the supplemental life insurance with Minnesota Life with no rate change. However, its rate is determined by a participant's age on Jan. 1 of each year. Commissioners also approved a renewal of long-term disability with Madison National Life with no rate change, but these rates are determined by age and contingent on union approval. Dental insurance will once again be offered through Dearborn, which allowed employees to find dental coverage in the area quite easily, according to Kohn. All were approved.

Highway engineer John Grindeland presented two resolutions for final payment to Minnowa Construction for construction done on county roads. The first was for $25,191.96 for work in Canton Township, and the second for work in Carimona Township in the amount of $4,137.56. Both were approved. Grindeland added that paving on County Road 5 south of Highway 16 near Wykoff has begun and that though the road has been closed, drivers have attempted to use the newly-paved road.

The commissioners' administrative items included submitting the county's automated external defibrillator (AED) project - which is intended to place AEDs in public places in case of a person suffering heart distress - for a possible Association of Minnesota Counties award.

The AED project, according to the board, might be eligible for the Minnesota Counties award because it aims to place AEDs in all 18 of the county's squad cars, then in county buildings, and finally, in city buildings in order to make intervention in case of a person having a heart attack more possible. The project was funded by a grant that provided for the first year's purchases and is dependent on funds being available for the remaining efforts of the project.