Fillmore County’s commissioners granted several requests for the Social Services department during their Tuesday, March 7, board meeting.

First, Social Services manager Neva Beier and Director of Nursing Jessica Erickson asked approval of a resolution authorizing the application for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP), which the commissioners approved.

The second request required a bit more consideration as Beier and Erickson requested remodeling of the Public Health and Social Services departments’ front desk. Commissioners heard the reasons why the Social Services and Public Health office should be renovated. The two ladies explained that the departments are taking steps to increase building security as a means of protecting staff and providing more privacy for residents who use the Public Health and Social Services departments’ offerings.

County coordinator Bobbie Vickerman and Beier distributed a map of the proposed changes to the office building, citing that the addition of secured doors and relocation of some front office walls will create better security.

The proposed renovation would include limiting access to the actual office portion of the building, meaning residents would have to check in and wait to be admitted, and also add some private rooms such as a mothers’ room so that nursing mothers can tend to their children.

Vickerman stated, “The front of the building was hit by a vehicle, and since we have to fix that, we want to be sure that we look at all of the project at once. Also, we want to do this while the contractors are not as busy…trying to minimize the work.”

Board Chairman Randy Dahl commented, “This is the least intrusive way we’ve found to secure the building. We’re trying to utilize the existing structure and add some walls.”

Finally, the commissioners considered a telecommuting request from Beier and Erickson to allow Kari Cahill to work from home in Fountain. Beier assured the board that Cahill is a reliable employee who does more than asked, and while she would be working from home, she would be willing to come to the office or jail as necessary to carry out her duties, as she is the lead chemical dependency assessment facilitator.

Commissioner Marc Prestby inquired as to the cost of setting up a home office and whether that would double costs because of hardware and software necessities, but Beier and Vickerman related the computer device and software used at the office is portable and would need only a docking station.

Dahl added that the county’s telecommuters are expected to take on more work than if they were in the office. Beier remarked that working from home allows employees to eliminate some of the distractions that are constant with working in an office.

The board granted permission, raising the number of telecommuters to eight employees.

Engineering requests

Stantec Consulting Services representative Brett Grabau brought forward a change order of $6,121.50 with Generation X Construction, LLC, for the Greenleafton sanitary sewer project. He also submitted a final payment request for $42,576.57 plus the change order amount of $6,121.50 to total $48,698.07 to be paid to Generation X.

The change order covers the televising of the system at a cost of $2.75 per foot, a process that was already carried out while the ground was frozen, in order to avoid leaving ruts in residents’ yards.

Approval of the change order and payment close out the project with the contractor, according to Grabau, who elaborated that the next step is to submit the project’s completion to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and proceed with operating the sewer system.

The commissioners accepted the change order and final payment.

Grabau also updated the commissioners on the Cherry Grove community assessment report that is being done to determine how or whether a sanitary sewer system can be installed in Cherry Grove.

“Greenleafton started out as a community assessment report,” he said, going on to note that the report will serve as a guide for action as the county meets with the MPCA to determine wastewater treatment needs in the rural crossroads community of Cherry Grove. Eventually, there will be community meetings held to allow residents to ask questions and get answers on subjects that will be pertinent to the project.

Dahl thanked Grabau and Sheila Craig, who is working with the communities, for their time invested.

Sheriff’s request

Sheriff Tom Kaase presented a request to purchase a specialty printer for the jail’s fingerprinting process, even though it was not an item for which his department budgeted this year.

He explained the printer is not necessary for criminals’ fingerprints to be registered – those are sent digitally to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to be stored. He said the BCA used to provide the fingerprinting machine and printer for the purpose of filing fingerprints in a database, but no longer provides the printer.

However, the county still uses the printer to serve residents whose job applications require that they submit their fingerprints, for those attempting to obtain identification cards without a photo, or for people applying to become foster parents.

“If we don’t get one, it would mean I would have to send people to another sheriff’s office, and I don’t want to do that. If we charged a service fee, that would pay the cost of a new printer and maybe help us plan ahead for the future,” Kaase said. “I believe the cost would be recouped because, last year, we did approximately 100 (public fingerprinting jobs), and I’m looking at $20 as a fee.”

Commissioner Prestby asked, “How are we going to pay for it?”

Kaase replied that he felt that it could be one of the line items in his department’s budget.

A motion was made to proceed with the purchase of the printer and a five-year warranty for $1,843.48, and another was made to set the service fee for public printings at $20 each.

Purchasing budgeted items

The County Board also heard the first reading of the department head requirements for purchasing within a department’s budget based on dollar amount. This sets an amount of money department heads are allowed to spend on a purchase before bringing it before the commissioners. The proposal was to increase the amount from $500 to $7,500 because the highway department often needs to make purchases and spends quite some time presenting its needs to the board.

The department heads would have to explain their purchase requests to their respective committees before going shopping for items that are already approved in their budgets.

Commissioners Prestby and Gary Peterson expressed some apprehension about the large sum being considered, as they felt that $2,500 or another figure seemed to be reasonable.

Prestby said that he agreed that the $500 has to be increased to a larger number but that he felt that $7,500 is not the answer. The board will continue discussing the matter.

Other business

Administrative items included approving the purchase of a centralized copy machine contract for copiers to be used by courthouse employees. Those using various copiers from different companies gave their input on the copiers they tested, including input from County Attorney Brett Corson and Kaase, as their needs for high-resolution copies of photographs used as evidence needed to be taken into consideration. Ultimately, the county chose a company that will provide nine copiers to its offices — eliminating one of the existing number — and closing out the contracts with current copier companies serving the county.

The board also approved a request to purchase cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED) training equipment using wellness grant funds.

The consent agenda included approving renewal of the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center’s consumption and display permit effective April 17, 2017, through April 16, 2018.