On Sept. 11, Houston County commissioners approved an asbestos pre-demolition inspection for a mobile home trailer in Caledonia that was used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Environmental Services Director Rick Frank brought bids from two companies to perform the task, telling the board that their previous vote to move the unit prior to the inspection could not be done due to federal asbestos regulations.

The trailer, built in 1974, will need to sit until it's ready to be hauled to the La Crosse County landfill for disposal. "This needs to be done before the landfill can accept it," Frank said.

The inspection, which will be done by low-bidder Midwest Environmental Management Company of La Crosse for $1,365, is only one step in ridding the county of the hazard.

If asbestos is found, abatement will come next, followed by hauling and demolition along with landfill fees.

Frac sand companies lying?

In other county board news, Commissioner Justin Zmyewski reported that he'd been contacted about a frac sand company seeking a road-use agreement with the county.

The (unidentified) company contacted County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski, stating that they already had road-use agreements with Money Creek and Houston townships and just needed the county to sign on, he reported.

"Money Creek Township called me and asked me what was going on?" Zmyewski stated.

"I said, 'I heard you guys approved a road agreement.' They said they'd never talked to them.

"They (the company) pretty much lied to everybody. When I contacted them and asked that they attend the next township meeting, they said they were interviewing drivers and didn't have time.

"It irks me, the fact that they lied to try and get to the next step. I went to the Money Creek Township meeting, and they were all concerned, since they did not talk to them.

"I've got a little bit of an issue over how far we bend for a company that's brought extremely large amounts of misinformation and clearly a lack of knowledge of their business."

Commissioner Tom Bjerke noted that several frac sand companies are in the process of acquiring the rights to operate existing Houston County quarries.

"There's talk of routing trucks through Caledonia into Iowa," he said.

"An environmental assessment looks at the traffic studies and pollution with potential contamination of the water and air. I'm thinking that requiring an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) is the least we can do to address these old quarries that are being targeted."

"It doesn't matter how many ways you slice this, the bottom line is they're skirting the moratorium," Zmyewski said.

"I guess they didn't want to give us time to research the moratorium. You're forcing our hand to where we'll have to put extremely stringent stipulations in, because we don't know what the effects are, and I don't want to get caught short.

"We don't want to not have money in the budget to cover somebody wrecking the road or not doing reclamation."

"I think they're going to be digging through the books to find all of these (mines)," Bjerke said, asking colleagues if an EAW could automatically be required without a petition.

Chairman Jack Miller agreed that the issue of EAW requirements for mine conversions should be studied.

New software saves money?

Commissioners approved a cash register software suite for the treasurer and auditor offices, along with training, support and a new printer.

Customers will receive computer-generated receipts while the software records transactions for county staff.

"It will be a huge savings in time," Treasurer Donna Trehus stated. "We'll eliminate daily receipt books, and it will be a lot more efficient."

The program will cost $5,400, while four hours of training adds $600 to the bill. A new printer with supplies is $704. Trehus suggested that the total come from $11,255 in new escrow fees that her office has collected this year. The board approved that as well.

In addition, approximately $200 will be required for a pro-rated software support agreement for the remainder of 2012, Trehus said.

That annual support package will cost $2,473 in 2013.

Personnel changes approved

Commissioners voted to hire Judy Graf as a 67-day temporary employee in Human Services. Graf will assume case aid duties while the process of hiring a permanent replacement for a vacancy is completed.

Case Aide Jacquelyn Hauser was the subject of a second vote, when the board OK'd changing her employment status from probationary to regular.

Other news from the board

The board approved two "pass-through" grants for the Viking Ridge Riders snowmobile club of Spring Grove.

The club will receive $10,489 to reroute corridor 91, while $16,657 will go toward the Spring Grove reroute.