As chairperson of the Houston County Board of Commissioners, I would like to do an update on county matters. First of all, I have much respect and support for township grassroots government and have served for almost 20 years at township levels as clerk and supervisor.
Houston County currently has a moratorium on industrial silica sand mining in effect until March 2015. We do not want to affect construction, dairy or gravel sand mines. If we do not enact a regulatory ordinance by March 2015, our existing mining ordinance will govern. Although it is a good ordinance, it was adopted prior to silica sand issues, so it does not address regulation for air quality, truck traffic effects on roads, soil and water protection.
We did establish a work/study group to research and recommend to the planning commission regulations which, after a public hearing, would go to the county board for consideration and adoption after another public hearing. Two weeks ago there was a majority board vote to have another work/study committee to ban all industrial silica sand mining in the county. We do need to protect the county if the ban ordinance was challenged and lost, as then we would have nothing to protect us.
Also at this time, we will video record all public meetings in whole and posted them on the Houston County website the following day. It was noted in editorials and YouTube that only portions were portrayed.
As far as highway concerns, I will note that we did purchase needed equipment as budgeted for in 2013.
We did adopt a wheelage tax after the state reduced our state aid and counties were advised to consider either a $10 charge added to licensing or a sales tax. We, as many rural counties, chose the wheelage tax to go to the road and bridge fund, and chose not to do a sales tax. All metro counties do both. A public hearing was held.
On another note related to county townships, take time to investigate the interesting history of our county roads. 1) Jesse and Frank James lived and worked for awhile in a cave off Jesse James Road in Spring Grove Township before heading to Northfield. 2) Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boon, surveyed a 40 mile-wide strip of land through La Crescent, Sheldon, Yucatan and on to Iowa to keep the warring Indian tribes apart and protect settlers. 3) The initial point set where all surveys north of this line and west of the Mississippi can be seen just out of New Albin, Iowa. These are only a few of interesting facts around the county.