The Fillmore County Board of Commissioners convened Sept. 11 with a busy agenda, beginning with hiring a county engineer, as Fillmore County engineer John Grindeland would like to retire.

County human resources representative Kristina Kohn stated, "The board requested that we take time to do some more reference checking regarding two finalists, and they had really great reviews and references, and we had some long discussions.

"With that, I believe that we're at a point where we have a bona fide offer being discussed."

Commissioner Randy Dahl said, "We've had an ongoing discussion, and with Kristina's last round, we feel comfortable offering the job to either candidate."

The topic of perusal was whether the county should hire the new candidate, "candidate A" at that point in the meeting, and accept that candidate's stipulation for four weeks notice, or whether to ask the candidate to start sooner.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud said, "See if he can start in three weeks - I know that's a duplication of income, but the reason we started this process is that we were hoping to get someone in much sooner."

Commissioner Duane Bakke observed that "there will be disruptions in the whole engineering area."

Kohn replied that "there would be two engineers for a very brief time."

Commission Chairman Tom Kaase inquired, "It leaves us a tentative start date of Nov. 9, or if it fits his timeline or something works better for a start date, could you let us know?"

After further discussion regarding when the candidate might begin, the board voted to hire Ronald Gregg as the new county engineer.

Sand operation update

Geoff Griffin presented an update on a sand operation in Winona County, as a rail infrastructure is under construction in St. Charles to carry sand products.

Griffin stated that an "industrial slurry line" will be put in to carry waste back to a slurry injection site. "We're extending the slurry line to the county line, and once that's done, there's no more environmental work needed in Fillmore County."

The line would "keep all trucks off the road."

"Raw sand will be dropped off at County Road 6, and there'll be a 30-inch pipe below ground. Once we get to St. Charles, it (sand waste) goes through the wash plant and the drying plant."

The process would incorporate chemicals that clean the sand and aid in removal of fine silica sand and polyacrylamide, which, according to Griffin, is harmless unless exposed to sunlight, at which point it becomes acrylamide.

The waste polyacrylamide and sand would be dried and returned to the sand quarry site as cakes, which he related could eventually be used as dairy bedding after being mixed with soil to stabilize them.

"You wouldn't want to do it within a day after, but a month after," he remarked.

Bakke posited, "It's still going to be a fairly highly concentrated level of that in one area, and it's different than taking it out and spreading it in the fields like lime."

Griffin agreed, but added that the same acreage would be used for polyacrylamide and waste sand management.

The board thanked Griffin for bringing the information before them personally.

Discussing sheriff's salary

Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen shared an outline of his duties and a comparison of salaries of sheriffs in area counties, as he requested that his salary be raised in light of the addition of emergency management duties following the county's redesign.

Jensen said, "We continue to work as hard as we ever have - that includes me - in adding technology ... we continue to work on narrow-banding and have spent an amount of time working on grants and putting a radio system in for the dispatcher, including a half million-dollar project that will be paid for in state and 911 grants."

Jensen pointed out that while some surrounding counties have experienced sheriffs, those sheriffs also have emergency management operators to handle large emergency-related duties.

He noted, "A lot of the information is similar. The week before last, I started my 34th year with Fillmore County - I came through the Spring Valley contract - and this is my seventh year as sheriff. Our office took on emergency management during the redesign, which makes things more cumbersome.

"I'm asking that you recognize that I've done the job and worked hard to do it. Freeborn has a new sheriff who was elected in 2011, but they have a full-time emergency manager, so it's not an apples to apples comparison. I like to compare to Dodge and Wabasha counties."

The board granted Jensen's request to raise his current salary, $83,800, to $86,912, total, including emergency management.

Purchasing a pickup

Highway department foreman Brent Kohn asked the commissioners to consider the purchase of a pickup truck to be used in Canton, either from Nelson Auto in Fergus Falls, Minn., or from Zeimetz Motors in Spring Valley. The board chose to grant the purchase if Nelson Auto delivers the vehicle, at a savings of approximately $1,500, or to have Kohn return to the board if the dealership refuses to deliver.

Kohn left the meeting and returned to report that the dealership included the cost of delivery in the quote of $23,021, and a motion passed to allow the purchase.

Brown reports

Fillmore County coordinator Karen Brown cited an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that grants the Fillmore County airport $430,730 for airport development, but "zero land and zero for planning." The grant would encompass installing an airport beacon and runway and making various other improvements. Commissioner Dahl said, "Basically, if this doesn't pass, we have to pay for it ourselves." Nobody volunteered objections to the FFA grant.

Brown reported on the county's proposed 2013 budget, noting that "the overall budget shows an increase of 7.6 percent, or $1.6 million," with a proposed levy increase of 4.79 percent.

The budget reflected "significant changes in county program aid," as well as increases in human resources costs of $174,000 and a $1.7 million increase in highway maintenance. Brown's spreadsheet of costs showed a countywide per capita increase of $18.79.

Before the vote, Dahl inquired as to what could be done to fund Fillmore Family Resources, but fellow board members reiterated the uncertainty of Fillmore Family Resources' future. The commissioners passed a motion to accept the preliminary budget. A final budget and levy hearing will be held Dec. 11.

Next, Brown told about the AMC prescription program, which the county considered using to replace its previous prescription program because the previous program entailed that the county handle the marketing to county residents.

"We receive $1.25 for each prescription filled, and participants also get a discount on vision. County employees can also participate. AMC takes care of marketing."

Board members agreed on the benefits of incorporating AMC's prescription program.

Other business

Fillmore County zoning administrator Chris Graves presented an access permit for Milo Broadwater to add a new field access on County 15 in Carimona Township, as Broadwater was "accessing the field through a ditch," which Graves observed was unsafe.

Additional permits included Craig Kinsky's to widen a current access on County 5 in York Township, Alex Mensink's County 9 Carimona Township access widening, Robert and Karen Prinsen's permit to add a new field access on County 20 in York Township, and Joseph Mulhern's permit to widen his field drive on County 7 in Fountain Township. All permits were granted.

Commissioners gave their reports, and Dahl cited that "there's a group looking to rehabilitate an old private graveyard" along Highway 16 in Rushford Village.

"The county has the ability to designate an entity for that purpose ... to form a board or cemetery association. It would be the cemetery association of Rushford Village if it were a public cemetery."

Bakke asked, "If it were in the city of Preston, we'd have jurisdiction over it? We've actually turned over cemeteries to the townships, so I don't know why we'd be dealing with a cemetery inside a city."

County auditor Shirl Boelter informed the board that the county does have three private cemeteries that "have associations that report to us regularly: Crown Hill in Preston, one in Chatfield and one in Spring Valley."

The consent agenda included approving overnight stays for the county health educator Brenda Pohlman to attend the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Conference in Bloomington. Also approved was the appointment of commissioners Kaase and Bakke, Sheriff Jensen, attorney Brett Corson, Pohlman, Graves, and Brown to a rural Mabel property evaluation committee, and granting tobacco licenses to the Preston Motor Mart, the Wykoff Short Stop and ZZ Tap.