Houston County Board of Commissioners reported that final cost estimates for OSHA-mandated repairs to the county's Highway Shop in Caledonia are not yet available. That touched off a brief discussion on the issue of the future of that facility.

"We need to put together some information to determine which way we go," Commissioner Steve Schuldt said. "Do we try to resurrect the existing building or build new?"

"We have to get going on this, because the more Band-Aids that we have to put on that place, the worse," Commissioner Judy Storlie said. "We're just wasting money."

Chairman Justin Zmyewski noted that the county has already set aside $600,000 to begin construction on a new facility. That was done in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a set of plans were prepared for a building site on the north edge of Caledonia.

Zmyewski said he opposed a recent plan for a new $3 million facility. "We need not just one, but several different options," he stated.

"What is our necessity? We have seen some plans for up to four buildings. We may only be able to do one right now. I'd like to see what we can do with the $600,000, so that we don't have to go to the taxpayers and bond at all. What's the practical solution?"

Members agreed on two things by unanimous consensus: first, to find out what their options are to either repair the existing building or replace it, and secondly, to begin right away.

Commissioners asked that County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski appear next week with as much information as possible.

Closed session held

County Attorney Jamie Hammell asked commissioners to go into closed session to discuss "the settlement of a claim brought by a former employee."

Following the meeting, Hammell recommended approval of a "mutual release of all claims" agreement with former county employee Andrew Melde.

Commissioners then voted to accept the offer. Houston County will pay Melde $1,628 "as compensation for all claims," while he in turn agrees to release his former employer from any further legal action.

Melde worked in Houston County's Human Services Department from 2009 until 2012.

Personnel items bring votes

Commissioners accepted the upcoming retirement of Engineering Supervisor Gary Bolstad with thanks for his years of service. Bolstad will leave the county's Highway Department on or about Aug. 1.

Personnel Director Tess Kruger asked the board to approve an immediate search for a replacement, and they agreed.

A tentative hire date of July 22 is envisioned, so the next person can spend some time "getting up to speed" on current highway projects with Bolstad.

Commissioners also approved changing the employment status of social worker Chelsea Senn from probationary to regular, effective June 5.