On Tuesday morning, the Watonwan County Board approved County Clerk/Treasurer Kelly Pauling to send written consent to the federal government for refugee settlement. 

On December 3, 2019, a letter from the Minnesota Department of Human Services stated the following: 

September 26, 2019, President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring state and local governments to provide written consent to the federal government before refugees can be settled in their jurisdictions. Beginning June 1, 2020, the order will generally apply to all arriving refugees, including those with family members already living in Minnesota. 

"President Trump made it 'opt-in' instead of 'opt-out,'" said Commissioner Jim Brandstad. "We've always had refugee settlement, but he decided we should give counties and states the choice if they really want refugees."

The refugee limit in the United Stated for 2019 was 30,000, according to the Pew Research Center. 

"When the Syrian crisis was at its peak in 2015, the country of Germany took in [nearly a million] refugees from the Middle East," said Brandstad. "They're a country about the size of Minnesota."

In November 2019, Trump signed off on an 18,000 limit for 2020. 

If a county doesn't respond, then refugees aren't placed in jurisdictions that didn't offer consent. But after placement, refugees are allowed to travel or relocate to any county they wish. 

In other business, Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation (RCEF) Director Bryan Stading updated the board on what the organization has been doing over the last several months. Because of confidentiality purposes, Stading could only give vague descriptions of recent projects. 

RCEF is a non-profit entrepreneur and business development organization that's helped more than a thousand small business owners over the years.

"We realize we have to keep the doors open in small communities," said Stading. RCEF is a free service covered by the county and state. "The idea is not to be the best-kept secret." Visit rcef.net for more information. 

Facilities Manager Matt Durheim presented remodeling quotes for the license center. The modifications include changing the counter and installing three-to-four feet tall glass for four windows. One window would be set lower to be more accessible. The remodeling includes side dividers for more privacy. The board approved a split-contractor deal from Warren Stevens Construction and Fairmont Glass & Sign for a total price of $12,498.58.  

Raymond Gustafson was also elected chair commissioner for 2020. 

From the Public Works Department:

–The contractor was unable to address damaged curbs before winter, but the department has scheduled to fix them. "It's a little bit funky because if you put the mix on [the damaged curbs], it won't stick," said Spellman. So, you have to cut out the whole section." The department also plans to conduct concrete pavement rehab to address the potholes. After surveying the damage, the department will know if they will also have to shut down roads and what communication they need to have with the city. 

–County Engineer Training approved for Teal Spellman to attend the Minnesota Transportation Conference 

–Road groomer, a budgeted item, approved for purchase for $15,400

–The department will reclassify Engineering Technician Alex Davis' position to senior engineer 

Other Approved Items:

–2020 Association of Minnesota Counties Delegates: James Branstad, Environment & Natural Resources, Ray Gustafson, General Government, Kathleen Svalland, Health & Human Services, Bill Miller, Pubic Safety, Bob Rinne, Transportation & Infrastructure 

–2020 Children's Mental Health Screening Grant 

–Voting Equipment Reallocation Agreement signed by Kelly Pauling 

–Solid Waste Hauling License 

–2020 Tobacco License for Butterfield Casey's General Store 

–Training requests: Julie Peterson, 2020 HSEM Governor's Conference, Kelly Pauling, day of the capital legislative updates, David Haler, MN Onsite Wastewater 

-CodeRED for $10,921 from Onsolve 

The next county board meeting will happen on January 21 at 9:00 a.m.