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Goodhue Board signs up for refugees; names Drotos board chairman

Paul Drotos was named chairman of the Goodhue County Board of Commissioners Tuesday as the county board met for the first time in 2020.

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RED WING — Paul Drotos was named chairman of the Goodhue County Board of Commissioners Tuesday as the county board met for the first time in 2020.

The board rotates its chairmanship, and Drotos, the District 5 commissioner whose district encompasses southern Red Wing and Wacouta Township, will take his first turn as chairman since he was first elected in 2016.

In its first meeting of the year, the board set a public meeting date to discuss the solid waste designation ordinance for the county. Previously, the board scheduled a public hearing on the subject, but missed the state statute notification deadline, said County Administrator Scott Arneson. 

The new public hearing will be 5 p.m., Feb. 18 in the county board room. 

The county board also voiced its support of a tax-increment financing proposal for a new brewery business in Pine Island. Tessa Leung and Ann Fahy-Gust presented a plan in December to the Pine Island City Council to renovate the old Pine Island Cheese Mart into a regional brewery called South X Southeast Minnesota Brewing Company. A TIF public hearing will be held at the next Pine Island City Council meeting in January. 

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Arneson said the county does not authorize the TIF proposal, but is required to be informed by cities planning a TIF project. 

"We didn't have any concerns," Arneson said of the board's reaction to the proposed project. "We are supportive of the project, and we hope it goes well."

Finally, the board heard a presentation concerning refugee resettlement during a committee of the whole. 

An executive order by the Trump Administration requires local governments to provide written consent to the federal government prior to any refugees being resettled in the county. The order only applies to individuals being resettled as part of the U.S. Refugee Admission Program. 

Arneson said the county board voted 3-2 to continue accepting refugees through the program.

"Really, the only difference is whether you get funding or not," Arneson said. "They can still move here."

In Minnesota, five agencies work through the state refugee coordinators office, Arneson said. Those agencies include Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota, Arrive Ministries, Minnesota Council of Churches and International Institute of Minnesota.

For example, Arneson said, Catholic Charities gives more than $1,100 per refugee. Furthermore, refugees coming through the program have been processed and vetted by the federal government.

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Related Topics: GOODHUE COUNTY
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