Following a plea from county staff, two members of the Planning Commission whose terms expired at the end of the year were reappointed last week for another three-year term.

"These two members have been on that Planning Commission for a number of years," Environmental Services Director Rick Frank told commissioners on Jan. 15.

"They are both willing to serve another term. It serves the county well to have that kind of experience on the Planning Commission."

"There's some unprofessionalism that does go on at those meetings," Chairman Justin Zmyewski replied.

"You get remarks in there when somebody doesn't get what they want. You get some insubordinate, derogatory comments towards (other) board members. That's unacceptable. They are there to represent the people of the county," Zmyewski added.

"I would disagree very strongly that that (commission) has been a functionally-running ship."

"Secondly, I disagree that because somebody has been on something for a long time that they're the right person for it," Zmyewski pointed out.

"You can have somebody that's been the wrong person who has been there for a long time.

"I think it would be a good to get some new blood, new faces and new ideas. We do have a historic event with the frac sand (regulations) coming up, so it would be nice to have some other opinions and some other insight on that."

"It's also come up that you have to have term limits," Zmyewski said. "I can tell you that being on that Planning Commission board the last two years and seeing the dynamics that go on... it's my opinion, and I don't have a vote, but being on there, I would like to see other people involved and be on that board."

Frank said that the Planning Commission currently has a good mix of representatives from different areas of Houston County.

Members have traditionally "been spread out around the county, so if there was an application, a permit or some questions on (an issue), somebody on that planning board knew the area.

"I think that the Planning Commission has good common sense, (and) they have been able to take on a lot of hot issues and topics. They've sat where you're sitting, and they've taken what you've taken (public scrutiny). I would hate to lose that experience."

Commissioner Teresa Walter added that according to statutes, only one county commissioner can serve on the Planning Commission.

Terms of office are for three years with an additional three years allowed "at the discretion of the board."

"I think we should keep it separated like that with one from each different area," Walter said. "I think we should leave Terry (Rosendahl) on just because he's from Hokah, if he's willing to serve."

"I think that everything in the county will run better if we work as a team," Commissioner Judy Storlie added. "Let's keep the communications open so that things don't get too hostile."

Walter made a motion to re-appoint Rosendahl and Glenn Kruse to the Planning Commission and have Zmyewski continue as the board's representative. Commissioner Dana Kjome seconded.

"I just think it's critical that the citizens be treated respectfully," resident Donna Buckbee commented. "And that hasn't happened."

The motion was passed by unanimous vote.

Inmates allowed email access

Commissioners voted to contract with Renovo Software for a "VisPay Module" that will allow county inmates to get emails on a pay-per-message basis. Houston County will receive 50 percent of the gross payments collected from the email visits.

Jail Administrator Mark Schiltz said that Renovo currently serves as the county's video visitation vendor.

Funds from email "postage" sold to friends and family of inmates will go into the county's inmate fund, which is used for items such as uniforms and program materials like books and educational supplies. The "email stamps" will probably sell for 40 to 50 cents, he added.

Other news from the board

Board representatives will meet with the City of La Crescent on Feb. 11 to discuss collection of solid waste household fees. Those monies support county drop sites and recycling centers.

Commissioner agreed by consensus to have EDA Coordinator Jordan Wilms apply for state funding to help pay for a possible re-use study on the historic Houston County Jail building.