On April 23, Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan presented Houston County Commissioners with the 2012 feedlot report that his department has compiled for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Scanlan said that the county earned $8,170 in Performance Credit dollars by going "above and beyond" the minimum requirements for feedlot management.

An example of those efforts would be working with owners to safely manage smaller (non-registered) operations, he added.

Feedlots with more than 50 animal units must register.

Houston County has 447 registered feedlots, but over 600 producers work with county staff on management goals, Scanlan said.

When asked what constitutes a feedlot, Scanlan stated, "A feedlot is any place where vegetation can't be maintained through the growing season, where you're feeding animals. Or, if you're housing animals in a building or open lots.

"A registered feedlot is where you feed 50 animal units or more, or if you're near a creek, 10 animal units or more. There's a ton of 20 head beef feedlots out there that aren't even required to register.

"Pastures (even near creeks) are exempt, because there you have vegetation that's being maintained."

Commissioners approved the report.

Web documents will cost

Assessor Tom Dybing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Coordinator Dan Krzoska asked the board for permission to enroll the county in the Minnesota Counties Computer Co-op (MCCC) "Public Information User Group."

"It's going to cost us $1,000 a year to join the MCCC group," Krzoska said.

"As a part of the group, we are going to get the account management module for Beacon. That allows us to charge for parts of our (web) site on a subscription basis. We are one of only two counties on Beacon in Minnesota that isn't charging at all."

Beacon GIS parcel information is used by professionals for site surveys, deeds, engineering plans and more.

Dybing and Krzoska said they were undecided on how the fee structure will be implemented, but said that others charge for daily or monthly access to documents. The board voted to join the user group.

Maint. agreement approved

Commissioners approved a service agreement with Wisconsin-based SGTS Inc. to provide maintenance for a wide variety of surveillance and security systems at the Houston County Justice Center.

The cost of the one-year pact is $2,000. For that amount, the company will be on-call should problems crop up and will also provide eight hours per year of maintenance in the form of on-site inspection or system recertification.

Jail Administrator Mark Schlitz reported that the existing warranty period for equipment at the facility expired on April 16.

"I wish we could have a local electrician come in and work on these systems," he told the board.

Unfortunately, companies, which specialize in jail hardware and software systems, are few and far between, Schlitz and Personnel Director Tess Kruger added.

"The only other provider (available locally) was between 60 percent and 80 percent higher," Kruger said.

Chairman Justin Zmyewski surveyed the hourly rates for technical support and stated, "That is unbelievable."

Hourly charges include travel time (from $68 to $200 per hour) and costs for services on Sunday and holidays range from $170 to $290 per hour. Even rates for weekdays range from $85 to $145 per hour.

Kruger agreed that technical services are expensive but unavoidable.

"We ran the numbers. It actually would be much to our advantage to enter into the agreement," she stated.

Wildcat Park to be upgraded

Commissioners approved a plan to funnel profits from Wildcat Park and Landing outside of Brownsville back into the facility for improvements to wiring and washrooms.

Although the park has not always generated income, it did quite well in 2012, Auditor Char Meiners reported. Last year, the park cleared approximately $22,000 after expenses.

Mining regulations discussed

Commissioner Dana Kjome brought up the subject of new mining ordinances. Zmyewski said that it's time for the board to take control of the process.

"We've got a lot of people throughout the county that we can count on," Zmyewski said. Some of those resources would include the Root River Soil and Water Conservation District, MnDNR and Public Health, he stated.

"I'd like to see the board maintain control from here on out, work on the ordinances with our attorney, Jay Squires and have weekly discussions on our agenda.

"When we get something outlined, where we need to go to the public hearing, then it can go to the Planning Commission."

Earlier in the meeting, four citizens spoke about potential frac sand mining within Houston County.

All of them asked commissioners to either enact strict controls over the industry or ban it outright.