Semcac executive director Wayne Stenberg and Semcac Senior Services director Debbie Betthauser appeared before Fillmore County’s board of commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 13, to present an update on the organization and review its appropriation request for the coming year.

Stenberg began by thanking the commissioners for the opportunity to present the information to them, then went on to note Semcac serves people in 11 counties in various ways, including providing heating assistance to 525 households this winter, facilitating housing assistance for low income residents, administering the Small Cities Program, offering home weatherization services, transportation and more.

He noted the organization has served 29,369 “unduplicated” people in the past year and that the demographics of who Semcac serves has shifted for the first time from primarily senior citizens to young adults, aged 18 to 24.

Stenberg also explained how Rolling Hills Transit buses are picking up people of all ages in Houston, Steele, Winona, Fillmore, Dodge and now Olmsted counties.

Commissioner Duane Bakke questioned, “Why Olmsted County transit now?”

Stenberg elaborated that in Olmsted County, buses have been sent to Dover and Eyota to move people to where they want to go. Regarding the volunteer driver program – for which volunteers are compensated for taking senior citizens in private vehicles – Dahl suggested that lobbying for the return of compensation for the miles traveled while volunteers’ vehicles are loaded might be helpful.

Betthauser outlined how the Senior Nutrition program has served senior citizens nutritious meals at congregate sites and in their homes, but also how nearly $100,000 in reduced funding, as a result of federal sequestration, has affected programming.

“Senior Nutrition is in all 11 counties. In Fillmore County, we have 10 communities and that’s the highest level of service of any county we serve,” she said. “Last year, we delivered more Meals on Wheels than in the past – 22,000 meals. The focus is definitely on Meals on Wheels instead of Senior Dining, or congregate dining. Due to sequestration, we closed four of our sites and consolidated six of our kitchens into three. We continue to utilize volunteers heavily – without the volunteer system, we wouldn’t be able to deliver meals. We also maintain a lot of local contracts with restaurants yet.”

Commissioner Randy Dahl pointed out, “Sequestration is still affecting valuable programs like this, and the federal legislators need to be reminded” that the funding the programs receive is important because it helps meet the needs of senior citizens and keeps them in their homes longer.

Stenberg concluded that while Semcac has “a lot of agencies to keep an eye on,” it attempts “to always be transparent.”

Sheriff’s report

Sheriff Tom Kaase and county emergency manager Kevin Beck shared a review of the Region One joint powers board agreement from Southeast Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management.

Beck pointed out that a language change might be necessary before the commissioners could approve the agreement, as there are “18 different entities and 18 different attorneys” involved in the drafting of the agreement.

He and Kaase apologized for the inconvenience of bringing it before the board while it is still incomplete, but they and the commissioners agreed it would be best to table the matter until the language issue has been resolved.

Kaase also asked the board to consider allowing him to pursue lighting replacement quotes for the records management area of the sheriff’s office, as an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) had been purchased for the office building but has yet to be installed.

He related some space usage rearrangement will be done in preparation for the unit and that in the shuffling will allow Morem Electric to deal with the lighting problem in the records area.

Kaase stated the reason he brought the matter before the board was that the cost extended beyond what is considered discretionary. The commissioners granted permission for the lighting work to be done.

Other business

County coordinator Bobbie Vickerman, speaking on behalf of Fillmore County Social Services manager Neva Beier, requested approval of the 2015 purchase of service agreement for mental health services targeted case management with Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center, as well as approval for the 2015 business associate addendum to the agreement, both of which were granted.

Vickerman also brought forward a service purchase agreement with Workforce Development, Inc., for the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and the Diversionary Work Program (DWP).

Administrative items the commissioners dealt with included approval of the 2015 to 2017 Law Enforcement LS Local #85 union contract, the updated contract with Brad Johnson for location services, and setting the date of the 2015 board of appeal and equalization for June 16 at 6:30 p.m.

The consent agenda included payment of the first quarter invoice of $100,960.25 to Olmsted County Community Services for the 2015 Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted (DFO) Community Corrections appropriations, payment of a first quarter invoice of $9,352.50 to Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) for providing economic development staffing services and granting the information systems department’s annual Minnesota County Information Technology Leadership Association’s $250 membership fee.