Become involved in county government


(12/16/2009)

From: Mena Kaehler

A strong community is one that has many people involved in giving back. The purpose of this article is to encourage you to become involved in our county government, not only for personal satisfaction of working for the benefit of the whole, but also as civic duty. The county has a number of committees that are made up of volunteers.

There is a huge amount of behind the scenes work that is accomplished by these individuals and the committees. Our committee list is: Agriculture and Rural Issues, Garvin Brook, Apple Blossom Park, Human Service Advisory, Board of Adjustment, Jail Advisory Committee, County Economic Development Authority, Personnel Board of Appeals, Community Health Services Advisory, Planning Commission, Extension Committee, and Solid Waste Advisory. There may be a few others that I missed. And there are a couple of groups that are not strictly county, but committees and boards that request the county board to appoint someone to represent us. For example – the SELCO board.

A huge accomplishment of the Planning Commission is the County’s Zoning Ordinance that we are in the process of approving. They, along with the planning staff, spent the last couple years developing this document to bring to the board. It is their work that we are reviewing and tweaking. This was done in addition to their normal responsibilities, which is to hear conditional use requests (CUPs) and pass their recommendations onto the county board. The Planning Commission is comprised of nine members from across the county. The County Board makes an effort ensure the board represents the diversity of the county.

The Board of Adjustments is a five-member board that hears and makes the decision to grant variances (relief) to the standards and provisions of the Winona County Zoning Ordinance. Their decisions are binding; they do not need to send them before the county board for approval. If a petitioner is unhappy with the opinion, they have an avenue to grieve this decision.

You do not have to be passionate about an individual issue to serve; rather you need to be willing to commit time and render judgment in civil service. You need to be willing to review facts, follow guidelines and make difficult decisions.

We are in the process of accepting applications. There is a short two-page application online. It asks for your basic information, why you want to serve and a spot to note which committee you are interested in. Applications will be accepted until the end of December. At that time we will review applications and make our appointment to the various boards sometime in January.

There are openings on the following boards: Personnel Board of Appeals, Solid Waste Advisory, Community Health Services, Extension, Planning Commission, and Board of Adjustment.

Now that you know how to get involved in our committees, just go to our website at http://www.co.winona.mn.us – listed under the quick links on the home page is the 2010 Volunteer Committee Application form. I hope we see a bunch of applications for these positions. Involvement at the grassroots matters – just remember the saying, “If you don’t show up at the table . . . you won’t be served for supper.”

Enjoy the holidays with your family. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.

 

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