County commissioner Dana Kjome said at the board's May 29 meeting that he had talked with Curt Roverud about an existing building in Spring Grove that might fill some of the needs of the Highway Department.

Commissioner Steve Schuldt said that he had also spoken with Roverud.

"I'll take a look at it, and maybe Brian (Pogodzinski) and you (other commissioners) would like to come," Schuldt said.

"I think we owe him that. We should explore all possibilities in that regard."

Insurance rebate received

Kevin Balfanz of the Minnesota Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) presented the 2013 annual report to commissioners. "We are not an insurance company," he said, "We are a risk-sharing pool. We do not have a profit motive."

The organization is a joint powers entity. Balfanz said that 81 of 87 Minnesota Counties currently belong to MCIT.

Houston County has its workers compensation and property and casualty coverage with MCIT.

Based on "a retrospective review of a member's claims history and performance of MCIT's investments," the organization has provided yearly dividends to members. In 2012, Houston County received $206,033. That was enough to cover the cost of the county's worker compensation coverage, which totaled $194,535. Balfanz also reported lower aggregate rate changes for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

In addition, MCIT offers a variety of training programs to counties. Those include workshops on risk management, PATROL "Police Accredited Training Online" (in association with other agencies) on a range of policing topics, defensive driving and a confidential employee assistance program.

Retirement/personnel items

County commissioners accepted the retirement of automated systems manager/custodian Fred Lee, effective May 31. On a separate motion, the board voted to allow a search for a replacement.

Personnel Director Tess Kruger presented "Decision Maker Training" to the board. Topics included handling the complaint process in regards to employees, how to investigate charges of improper behavior and the proper course of action in regards to discipline.

Kruger brought copies of county guidelines that commissioners can expect to deal with, including the "Policy against Offensive Conduct, Harassment and Violence," and "Employee Code of Ethics & Conflict of Interest Policy."

County Attorney Jamie Hammell attended, telling commissioners, "It's not the same as a criminal case where it's beyond a reasonable doubt." The burden of proof for a harassment case is 51 percent.

Kruger added, "Sometimes bad manners do not rise to the level of harassment."

Other votes by the board

Commissioners approved a conditional use permit for Northern Natural Gas to double the size of an easement at a single site in Money Creek Township.

The company will place a "pig launcher" facility on a natural gas pipeline near Dump Hill Road. More details are included in this week's Herald report on the Planning Commission.

Another vote approved the lowest of three bidders for crack filling work along county roadways. Fahrner Asphalt will provide the service, which county engineer Pogodzinski said is performed each year to extend the life of highways. He said that $90,000 is budgeted for the work in 2013.

Justice Center 'muffler' tabled

Kruger brought a proposal from Winona Controls to provide and install two outdoor mufflers for boilers located at the Justice Center for $2,700.

"It (noise from the boilers) is not just annoying, it is very loud and very obnoxious," she stated. Kruger added that money for the retrofit is in the 2013 budget.

Kjome said that the architectural firm that designed the Justice Center should have included the mufflers.

He asked Kruger to see if they would help to pay for that omission. The item was tabled for her to investigate that possibility.