As chairperson of the Houston County board I would like to do an update on county matters. First of all, I have much respect and support for township grassroots government and have served for almost 20 years at township levels as a clerk and supervisor.

Houston County currently has a moratorium on industrial silica sand mining in effect until March 2015. We do not want to affect construction, dairy or gravel sand mines. If we do not enact a regulatory ordinance by March 2015 our existing mining ordinance will govern. Although it is good ordinance it was adopted prior to silica sand issues so does not address regulation for air quality, truck traffic effects on roads, soil and water protection.

We did establish a work/study group to research and recommend to the Houston County Planning Commission regulations, which after a public hearing would go to the county board for consideration and adoption after another public hearing. Last week there was a majority board vote to have another work/study committee to ban all industrial silica sand mining in the county. We do need to protect the county if the ban ordinance was challenged and lost as then we would have nothing to protect us.

Also at this time we will video tape all public meetings in whole and post on the Houston County website the following day. It was noted in editorials and you tube that only portions were portrayed.

As far as the highway department, Brian Pogodzinski can speak on that but I will note that we did purchase needed equipment as budgeted for in 2013.

We did adopt a wheelage tax after the state reduced our aid and counties were advised to consider either a $10 charge added to licensing and could also consider a sales tax. We as many rural counties chose the wheelage tax to go to the road and bridge fund and chose not to do a sales tax. All metro counties do both. A public hearing was held.

On another note related to county townships take time to investigate the interesting history in our County.

1. Jesse and Frank James lived and worked for a while in a cave off Jesse James road in Spring Grove township before heading to Northfield.

2. Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone, surveyed a 40 mile wide strip of land through La Crescent, Sheldon, Yucatan and on to Iowa to keep the warring Indian tribes apart and protect settlers.

3. The initial point was set where all surveys north of this line and west of the Mississippi can be seen in just out of New Albin. These are only a few of interesting facts around the county.

Look it all up at the Houston County Historical Museum and the Houston County Surveyors office and website.

Teresa Walter

Houston County Board Chair