Houston County commissioners unanimously approved a master agreement offered by airport consultant Mead & Hunt on March 12. The contract will run until March of 2018.

County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski stated that company will provide information to aid everyday operations and update the capital improvement program for the Houston County Airport.

The county agreed to pay for services at M&H's hourly standard rate, but those numbers were not included in the document.

Commissioner Steve Schuldt noted that the only project now underway is the resurfacing of the runway and apron area.

Commissioner Dana Kjome asked what the cost of services would be and was told that the company will provide additional documentation (including costs) for projects like the runway paving.

Schuldt noted that either party can cancel the agreement on a 30-day out clause.

The board also approved a new five-year master contract with MnDOT. Pogodzinski said that document covers day-to-day topics such as the testing of aggregate materials.

Permits and CUPs approved

Commissioners took the recommendation of the its Planning Commission, approving a conditional use permit (CUP) for Tom Vix of Cushon's Peak Campground to hold music events for more than 250 people. The five-year Exhibition Permit allows up to five events per year.

A five-year CUP extension for Porteous Olson of Houston Township was also approved. That document is for mineral extraction (limestone).

Sixteen already-issued building permits were reviewed, including several agricultural structures, four pole sheds, two garages and several additions.

One permit application (from Troy Flatten of Money Creek Township) to build a deck and carport on a trailer house was reported as denied by county staff.

Scanlan said that the property represents an "illegal mobile home park."

"It's non-conforming in that it doesn't meet any of the setbacks," he added. "Some of the trailers were in place prior to zoning, but some of them have been replaced and therefore are considered illegal.

"I have contacted the Fittings who own the property there and rent space for these mobile homes. We'd like them to come in sometime this year and work on getting that updated."

Public forum used

Two citizens spoke during the board's public comment session.

Robin Danielson presented a petition that opposes the use of golf carts on a county road near Money Creek, citing public safety and referring to carts in that specific area as a public nuisance.

The second speaker was frac sand study committee member Kelly Stanage who thanked commissioners for taking a cautious approach in permitting new frac sand mines.

She also asked the board to have the names and contact numbers for Planning Commission members placed on the county website along with meeting agendas. Commissioners agreed by consensus to have that done.

Frac sand pros & cons seen

On a related note, two documents were noted as received on the consent agenda:

The first was from State Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), who reported that he has signed HF 1361. The legislation would create a Silica Sand Technical Advisory Council "to provide assistance and guidance for local governments as they set local guidelines for frac sand mining."

The second was from Le Sueur County Administrator Darrell Pettis, addressed to State Senator Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing). It stated that Le Sueur County is concerned with a proposal to enact a one-year state moratorium on frac sand mining.

Other issues that Le Sueur County is purportedly concerned with are a "state generated generic environmental impact statement - EIS" on silica sand mining, a new silica sand tax structure, the formation of a Silica Sand Board and the development of a multi-county land-use plan.

Pettis also stated that Le Sueur County's "experience of performing many EAWs and four silica sand EIS has never required the need to stray from the state's current environmental rules."

Pettis wrote that the bill submitted by Schmit (SF 786) could be "problematical for Le Sueur County and the silica sand industry in the county."

Other news from the board

Elizabeth Johnson of Spring Grove was appointed to the county's Extension Committee as a youth representative.

Commissioners approved a disaster credit for Rita Watters of Hokah. Watters' home burned down in late 2011 so she should have been eligible for tax savings of $779 in 2012, Auditor Char Meiners reported.

In addition, Ms. Watters' should have an abatement of $575 for her 2013 taxes, since she does not plan to rebuild the house, Meiners added.

The board approved a pair of lawful gambling permits.

The first is for Ability Building Center to hold a fundraiser at Wildcat Park near Brownsville on Aug. 10. The second is for ABLE to hold a fundraiser at Ma Cal Grove Country Club in Caledonia on May 13.