The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted this week to approve a $9,786 contract with SafeAssure, an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety and compliance company. SafeAssure works with many surrounding municipal and county governments to help them navigate the complex web of health and safety regulations. According to the new contract, SafeAssure will review existing safety related programs and policies and will make recommendations for any necessary changes to help the County comply with OSHA standards.

A representative from the company, Chad Peterson, explained that SafeAssure will also conduct internal audits for the county to better assess areas of concern. A major component SafeAssure’s new role with Yellow Medicine includes providing both online and in-person trainings for County staff. Peterson said that the available trainings provide a comprehensive overview of the OSHA regulations that pertain to a variety of different positions. He said the trainings weren’t just about regulation compliance, but would also help create a safer work environment, adding, “it’s about employee safety at the end of the day.” Board Chair Ron Antony said the contract will help the County potentially avoid expensive lawsuits in the future. According to County Administrator Peg Heglund, the company had received positive reviews from other officials in surrounding governments. Commissioner Gary Johnson, while voting for the contract, expressed his concern that too much employee time might be spent on trainings. “I don’t want to overdo the trainings,” he said during the meeting.

Normally, contracts that are under $10,000 legally require at least two bids to comply with state law. According to County Attorney Keith Helgseon, the SafeAssure bid (which was the only one sought after by the county) is exempted from this rule because it is considered a “technical and professional service.” The contract was approved unanimously by the board.

In other news:

The Board voted to appoint Elmo Volstad to the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District Board of Managers. Commissioners said their appointment would help even geographic representation on the Board to include members from both sides of the watershed.

The Board voted to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) for Chris and Casey Long to build a 2400 head finishing barn on their property in Posen Township, just south of Wood Lake. The CUP is contingent on steps to secure odor management, tree planting, and zoning commission approval. Commissioner John Berends abstained from the vote due to a business relationship with individuals involved with the project.

The Board also voted to approve a resolution incorporating the summary of “other waters” into the County Comprehensive Local Water Management Plan. The move is part of the County’s buffer law implementation policy as mandated by state statutes.

The Soil and Water Conservation district submitted the summary to the county, which is now responsible for ensuring compliance with the buffer strip regulations enacted by Governor Mark Dayton in the summer of 2015.

County Engineer Andy Sander updated the Board on the 5-year Highway Plan. The plan outlines key construction projects that the county is planning, including repavement, bridge repairs, painting/stripping. The construction projects are all regular maintenance projects, and will rely heavily on state aid.

Restorative Justice Coordinator Sharon Hendrichs presented the grant funding request criteria for the Yellow Medicine County Chemical Health Coalition. The criteria lays out the steps that schools and other public entities can take when requesting funds from the County to help promote chemical health. Money is only available for organizations that serve youth, and requests cannot exceed $3,000 per event. The money must also uphold the strategic prevention framework created by the County to combat rising drug use in the region.