On April 2, Houston County commissioners appointed Brian Pogodzinski to a second term as county engineer. Effective May 1, 2013, the posting encompasses four years.

As head of the county's Highway Department, Pogodzinski brought several items to the board.

He asked commissioners to allow the department to join in a State of Minnesota road salt contract. Before 2009, Houston County bid for salt individually on the open market, but a shortage in 2008 drove the cost from approximately $65 per ton to $120. That pushed the salt bill from the $160-$180,000 range to $448,000.

"After that, we took part in the state bid," Pogodzinski said. "You might pay a buck a ton more, but the price is more consistent."

Members approved staying with the state bid in 2013. Pogodzinski said that icy roads have lowered the county's stockpile by about 3,000 tons this winter.

Commissioners also approved a final payment on last year's CSAH 9 and CSAH 26 paving. The original contract was for $1,440,677 but change orders brought the total to $1,464,181.

Funding resolution approved

Pogodzinski also spoke about a model resolution from the Association of Minnesota Counties. The document urges state lawmakers to provide "adequate funding" for Minnesota's statewide transportation system.

Pogodzinski reported that the four primary sources of highway funds are fuel taxes, license fees, motor vehicle sales taxes and interest.

The resolution also advocates additional funding options, including this passage: "The wheelage fee and local option sales tax for transportation should be options for all county boards to implement to meet their specific county needs."

"Houston County receives funding in four different accounts," Pogodzinski said. "For regular construction, we got $1.4 million. For municipal (highway) construction it was $88,000. The Township Bridge account received $428,000." Maintenance account funding brought the 2013 total to approximately $2.4 million.

"When we do our County 4 paving job this year, a total of about nine miles, we're anticipating we'll spend well in excess of $2.4 million. It will probably total $2.8 to $3 million."

A bridge on County 3 near Brownsville that will either be redone this fall or in 2014 will cost an additional $1 to $1.2 million, Pogodzinski reported.

The township bridge monies can easily be drained by a single project, he added.

Commissioners voted unanimously to endorse the resolution.

Hwy. Shop receives OSHA visit

Personnel director Tess Kruger appeared with Pogodzinski. As the person responsible to oversee maintenance of county buildings, she reported that an unannounced OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspection of the county's Highway/Shop Headquarters has raised several issues.

A follow-up meeting with OSHA will reveal if the county will face fines, Kruger said. The biggest immediate need is an additional fire door in "Shop A".

"It was undoubtedly built to fire code originally," Pogodzinski said, "that's no longer the case."

The "formal finding" meeting with OSHA will reveal more details. There will be some drywall and ceiling repairs cited, Kruger said.