On Oct. 2, Houston County commissioners learned that they will have to pay for a pre-petition psychological review for a Hennepin County inmate.

The unnamed person, listed only as "he" on redacted documents, was arrested for a 2010 sexual assault in La Crosse County, Wis., while residing in Houston County.

He is currently incarcerated in Hennepin County for a 2009 conviction on Criminal Sexual Conduct in the fourth degree.

Assistant County Attorney Araysa Ashmore told the board that Houston County is considered financially responsible to pay for the $1,250 psychological review, since the offender's last official residence was within the city of La Crescent. Prison doesn't count for residency, she added.

With a potential release date approaching, the inmate will need to be evaluated and considered for a civil commitment, Ashmore reported.

Under civil commitment statutes, a "Sexual Psychopathic Personality or Dangerous Person" may be held for any length of time deemed necessary, she said.

"It is an indefinite commitment," Ashmore stated. "A person could be in that facility for the rest of their life, potentially."

The inmate would continue to be incarcerated while the commitment process is completed.

"For a person with multiple sexual assaults on their record, it's something that it is imperative that we need to look at to make sure that this person is well enough to be in the community," Ashmore said.

The expense is a fairly rare occurrence, so it's not budgeted for by the county attorney's office, she added.

When asked if the person would cost the county more in the future, Ashmore said she couldn't say for sure.

"For me, I'd rather have those costs than have more crime. If this person truly falls under one of the two categories, then they need further treatment, and that's what we need to do to protect the community."

Commissioner Tom Bjerke asked that the county attorney's office search through their budget to see if funds from other line items could cover the expense.

By consensus, the board agreed to the strategy. Ashmore was told to return with a report on the matter. If no other monies are available, the cost will be passed along to the general fund.

New hires discussed

Commissioners voted to hire Jeremiah Shaver as a probationary network technician, effective Oct. 15. The .50 FTE job includes a $30-per-month cell-phone per diem.

Commissioners noted that Shaver was interested in full-time employment, and briefly floated the idea of a "shared position" with another government agency such as the city of Caledonia.

On a related note, the board asked department heads to come up with a policy to control access to sensitive material by members of the Information Technology Department.

Also approved were four 67-day temporary jailor dispatchers for roster (on call) duty. Travis Good, Kelsey Conner, Brandon Meiners and Tyler Heiden will be available to work when needed, covering vacations, sick leave or other emergencies.

"It's a great alternative to paying overtime," Bjerke said.

Another closed session held

Commissioners went into a closed session to take a conference call from land-use attorney Jay Squires, who is representing the county in the Minnesota Sands, LLC, Tracie Erickson and Michelle Erickson vs. Houston County lawsuit.

An Order to Show Cause and motion hearings are currently scheduled for Oct. 23.

Perkins Valley Rd. bid approved

Engineering Supervisor Gary Bolstad asked the board to approve a road construction contract that would re-align and add a box culvert on Perkins Valley Road, contingent approval from the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office.

With an engineer's estimated cost of $731,679, the low bid ($619,903) from J.B. Holland Construction of Decorah, Iowa, was accepted.

Other news from the board

The board noted a letter from Tom Falbo of Spring Grove that announced his resignation from the Bluff Country Housing and Redevelopment Authority board as of Dec. 31. Falbo's term runs until Aug. 27, 2016.

Bjerke asked for a replacement on his Regional Radio Board duties, since he will not be continuing after his present term of office. Commissioner Teresa Walter said she would step in.

The group still has approximately $2 million worth of grant funding available for projects, Bjerke said.

On a related issue, commissioners asked Financial Director Carol Lapham to make sure that the county didn't pay sales tax for recent ARMER radio purchases.