by John Holler
The Wright County Board of Commissioners conducted its first meeting of 2014 Jan. 7 and, as its first order of business, the board unanimously voted Christine Husom as the board chair for 2014.
Husom, who served as vice-chair last year, said she intends to make county board meetings open to public comment for those who wish to speak to an issue. Typically, audience participation is encouraged only at public hearings, but Husom said she would allow for comment on issues residents feel compelled to attend meetings to discuss.
“It is a public meeting, an open meeting, so I intend to let people who feel strongly enough on an issue that they will come to a board meeting, I think they should have their views heard if they want to speak up,” Husom said. “That’s who we’re working for and, often times, they’re the ones that influence how I vote. If I hear from constituents that feel strongly about an issue and I’m on the fence on an issue, that makes an impact on me because they are the people I am representing on the board.”
Husom will take on an added workload as board chairwoman because the job comes with additional working duties. If someone is trying to make contact with the county board, more times than not, is the chair that gets the calls, emails and letters.
“You are the point person that people come to,” Husom said. “I’m guessing it will make this year a little busier for me because I am that contact person. I’m the one who signs off on the bills. I think the tendency is that, if someone doesn’t personally know a commissioner, they come to the board chair first. There’s going to be more work, but, at this point, I don’t know how much. Just being a first-year commissioner was a lot of work.”
Husom is looking to build a first year of the new-look county board by overseeing the board in 2014. She’s proud of what the county accomplished in 2013 and wants to continue that under her stewardship.
“Hopefully I can keep things rolling in a positive way,” Husom said. “I think a lot of good things happened this last year and I want to continue that.”
In other items on the Jan. 7 agenda, the board:
DEADLOCKED on the scheduled time of county board meetings. As part of the reorganizational meeting, Commissioner Mark Daleiden asked that the provision that weekly board meetings all take place at 9 a.m. Tuesdays be laid over. Commissioner Charlie Borrell was not at the Jan. 7 meeting and Daleiden asked that the matter be laid over until all commissioners were present. Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said that board meetings have been held at 9 a.m. Tuesdays for at least 30 or more years. Daleiden said that last year the board discussed the potential of having evening meetings every month or so. Sawatzke made a motion to keep all scheduled meetings at 9 a.m., but the motion died because it ended with a tie vote — with Husom and Daleiden voting to table the question until the Jan. 14 meeting.
APPROVED county inclusion in the Minnesota Cities Participation Program, which provides low-interest loans for first-time homebuyer. Wright County was allocated more than $2 million through the program, which is sponsored by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. In past years, not only has Wright County used its full allocation of funds, when other counties and cities return unused funds, Wright County has routinely accepted more allocations later in the year.
NAMED the Howard Lake Herald-Journal as the official county newspaper. The paper has been the official county paper for more than 25 years because it places prices so low that nobody else can realistically compete. The Herald-Journal put in a bid for one cent per column inch of legal type. The only other bid received submitted a bid of $2.99 a column inch for legal type.
AUTHORIZED signatures on three construction project candidates being proposed for federal transportation funding. The projects are for 10 miles of construction on CSAH 37 between Hwy. 25 and CSAH 19, realignment of the intersection of CSAH 32 and Hwy. 55 in Rockford and as a sponsoring agent for a project on Farmington Avenue in Franklin Township.
APPROVED a contract with Green View Inc. for county park caretaker positions. Green View provides employment opportunities for needy elderly residents of the county to obtain employment. The caretakers will be assigned to several county parks, including Beebe Lake, Otsego, Clearwater/Pleasant, Fairhaven Mill and Robert Ney Parks.
AUTHORIZED signatures on a contract with Mary Ann Peterson to conduct the county’s Parenting Through Divorce program for 2014. The terms of the contract are the same as the one signed for 2013.
APPOINTED Ken Felger to the planning commission. Felger replaces Gordon Webber, who resigned at the end of his 2013 term. Felger was appointed by Commissioner Mike Potter.
IN a housekeeping item, approved a quit claim deed with Stockholm Township. In December, the board approved a resolution revoking segments of land resulting from the reconstruction of CSAH 3 to the township, but state law requires that a quit claim deed be included as part of the transfer.
AUTHORIZED board attendance at the Association of Minnesota Counties Leadership Development Academy Jan. 23-24 in Alexandria.
Contact John Holler at [email protected]