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Watonwan County Board makes steps to improve security and safety for county workers

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At Tuesday's Watonwan County Board passed a pair of motions to help upgrade county workers security and safety

Human Services Director Naomi Ochsendorf presented the board with an updated contract with CaseWorks. The addition will add social services to the online platform to make it easier for employees to work from home. It will also make all documents online.

"The most important thing is that all the documents will be right there on their computer versus having to go through the paper [files] and taking the paper files home with them," said Ochsendorf.

The move to online services will also make communications with other counties more secure, as well as cut out other time-consuming steps.

The addition will go live the Monday after Thanksgiving. The additional cost is $74,235, which will be paid for by CARES Act funding. Watonwan County will have to purchase some additional items, such as scanners, to go along with the new technology.

IT Director Jeff Tetzloff proposed that the county upgrade its firewall. The upgraded firewall would feature two 6600 Gateways, 8GB of storage, NGXT software suite, and mobile licenses.

"This would bring utilization down to 30-40%," said Tetzloff. "So it would leave a ton of space for growth."

It will also make working from home much more secure.

"The more that we want to utilize mobile working the higher the need," said county auditor/treasurer Kelly Pauling.

The firewall has a purchase cost of $66,540 and a yearly maintenance cost of $25,800. CARES funds will pay for the initial purchase of the firewall.

The current firewall has a current end date of February 2022.

Public Works Director Teal Spellman also went before the board for quotes for the repair of the wall at the Fairgrounds.

Spellman recommended the board accept the bid from TB Construction for $29,000. The project will be paid for by the $15,000 that the county allocates every year for the fair and $15,000 set aside for bleacher rental.

Spellman also brought a resolution to move forward some money to help pay for the 2020 construction projects. The county had $800,000 set aside for projects, but due to overages on projects due to hiccups in the projects, the projects went over budget.

Spellman requested that the county move up $548,041.03 to help pay the costs.

"All that does is basically let us go negative this year," said Spellman. "Even with this advance, we're still sitting well for 2021 construction. It won't have that big of an impact."

Spellman noted that moving money up is a common practice that the state allows counties to do.

Spellman also requested a resolution to move money from the municipal construction account to the regular construction account.

The county has an overage of $390,609 in the municipal account. 

Spellman noted that Watonwan County is a finalist for the relocation of the Kern Bridge. 

Commissioners Bill Miller and Jim Branstad shared updates from public safety and natural resource committees.

The next county board meeting is scheduled for October 20th.

Other items:

- IT Policies for Criminal Justice Insitute Network

- Approval of CARES Funds- $3,000 request from Living Meadows to purchase patio heaters and iPads to community resiliency. Additional $50,000 to IT.

- Registered Land Survey #4

- 2021 MPCA SSTS Program Grant Agreement

- Adjustments to Watonwan County Board meeting dates

- Property tax abatements

- Library Board Appointment- Glenda Arndt (2nd term)

- Training Requests: Meggie Munsterman, Lisa Schumann, and Teal Spellman

- Reduce family stabilization to $28 per month for PEEP

- Re-appointment of Meggie Munsterman as county assessor 

- Bills general: $65,311.47

- Bills: road and bridge: $40,962.67

- Credit cards: $10,577.56

- Personnel:

- Retirement Deputy Sheriff Barry Gulden not in good standing