The Houston County Board of Commissioners continues to weigh its options when it comes to a geographic information system following the retirement of its GIS coordinator.

The board discussed the online system to store spatial and geographic data during its Aug. 22 meeting. It also approved an agreement with Southeastern Minnesota Water Resources Board and discussed a possible land purchase.

After two meetings, the county’s GIS committee recommended that the county use Schneider’s online GIS technology with the condition that the service’s contract be reviewed after the first six-months. It also recommended that the coordination of the technology be under the county’s assessor’s office.

GIS is an online system that captures and stores spatial or geographic data.

“I have a hard time spending $30,000 or whatever the quote was when we have people educated in GIS in the county,” said commissioner Teresa Walter.

The discussion about possible changes comes after GIS coordinator Dan Krzoska retired in June. In an effort to save money, the board listened to a presentation by Schneider Corporation about its online GIS technology called Beacon about a month ago. The technology would eliminate the need for a GIS coordinator and would save the county from paying a salary.

After Krzoska’s retirement, the only known GIS trained personnel in the county’s office is surveyor Eric Schmitt who was hired in January.

“If he has GIS knowledge, then that should go hand in hand with his surveying knowledge,” said commissioner Jack Miller. “If we are in fact a team, I don’t know why he shouldn’t share that knowledge without a career change.”

While Schmitt does not currently work on GIS services, the board discussed possibly tying GIS into his role and contracting with Schneider for training services.

“Every department head has written to us saying they want somebody in house,” said commissioner Scott Connor. “I believe them.”

After the board discussed a few compromises, no action was made and the county agreed to look more discerningly at Schneider’s contract.

New Website

A newly commissioned Houston County-based graphic design group will soon turn its attention to the official Houston County website as approved at the Houston County Board of Commissioners Meeting.

The redesign of the county’s website has been a major focus for Community and Economic Development Associates Director Courtney Bergey in the last six months.

Although the county received 15 proposals ranging from $1,600 to $55,680 by the July 15 deadline, the EDA board approved the only Houston County-based proposal—Hazel Street Creative owned by Caledonia resident Amanda Wray Ninneman for $2,850.

The project is funded by the EDA’s 2017 $5,500 marketing budget.

Hazel Street Creative will build, manage and maintain the website as well as rebrand the EDA logo.

Possible land purchase

A property next to the county’s highway department shop is on the real estate market.

“I wanted to see if we have an interest,” Connor said. “The land we have is not big enough if we want enough room for a water retention pond and a larger shop.”

Although the owners of the property currently have no offer price, Connor and Houston County Attorney Sam Jandt agreed to work together to find the proper procedure to possibly pursue the property.

In Other News

The board approved a grant agreement with the Southeastern Minnesota Water Resources Board. The agreement gives the county $8,500 to fix feedlots.


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