Meeting Date: 2/18/2020

Meeting Location: Bert Harris Agricultural Center-Room 3
FINAL – Approved 4/21/2020
Recorded by: Susie Bishop


I. Welcome & Introductions
Scott Kirouac, HSWCD Supervisor – Board Chairman
John Causey, HSWCD Supervisor – Vice-Chairman
Steve Smith, HSWCD Supervisor
Pam Fentress, HSWCD Supervisor
Jim Brooks, Highlands County Commission Liaison
Susie Bishop, HSWCD Executive Director
Carlos Torres, USDA-NRCS District Cons.
Chad Allison, CFRPC – Project Manager

II. Approval of Agenda
Motion to approve agenda as presented (Causey/Deen) Unanimous approval.

III. Approval of Meeting Minutes – January 21, 2020
Motion to approve minutes as presented. (Fentress/Causey). Unanimous approval.

IV. Financial Activity
a. Overview & Approval of Financial Reports – January 2020 – Bishop reviewed the
bank statements & financial reports for January. Motion made to approve financial
reports as presented (Fentress/Causey). Unanimous approval.
b. General Fund Bank Account – Bishop reported the current balance in the General
Fund for discussion about investing in a short term CD. Current CD interest rates
were presented. Motion to purchase a 15 month CD at 2% interest for $300,000.00
at First Southern Bank (Causey/Smith). Unanimous approval.

V. Agency Partner Updates
a. NRCS – Torres announced application deadline of March 6, 2020 for EQIP. Applications received after March 6 will be considered for the fiscal year 2021. The initiatives of the funding pool were presented. Torres will be attending a meeting in Gainesville next week to learn the new rules and procedures for their programs. April 6, 2020 is the deadline for WRE & ALE applications, easement programs.
b. FDACS – No FDACS representative to report. S. Bishop explained the BMAPS are.
changing a lot of what field staff will be doing. If a new enrollment can’t be obtained by a landowner after three attempts they will be reported to DEP. The implementation verification visits will be done every 24 months. Additional staff has been requested this session to assist with the increased work load. The replacement of Kayla’s ESIII position in Sebring has been changed to an ES I and the new hire will start on February 21, 2020.
c. MIL – Bishop reported Miller has been working with Drew Pitts to assume the MIL work he was doing in Polk County. A quarterly ICC meeting is tomorrow and Bishop plans to attend with Miller.
d. Extension – No Report. Bishop shared she participated in an Ag. Tour today with Extension.
e. HCBCC – Brooks reported the expected growth in the County for Industrial & Commercial businesses. Nucor is moving along and hiring people at good salary levels for our area. Bids are being solicited again for the final phase of the parkway.
f. CFRPC – Allison reported a field trip to the Range with area planners took place as outreach for their work and future plans. The Polk County Commissioners recently voted in favor of a zoning change to property within the sentinel boundary to more units per acre. This change is a step back for the work on the Sentinel Landscape. The JLUS completed several years ago is up for a review soon. A bill is being proposed in Tallahassee to allow landowners to install linear (utilities, roads, etc) across easements. An easement recognition event is being planned by TNC, NRCS and CFRPC. Additional grants have been applied for easement purchases. A video will be released soon about the Sentinel Landscape. Allison will share the link when it is released.

VI. Old Business
HSWCD Staffing – Bishop reviewed positions filled and remaining vacant, including
options for the PSWCD technician HSWCD employs. Drew Pitts will be leaving his
position on Feb. 21, 2020. The consensus of the Board was to only renew MOU with
PSWCD if the technician will be placed in the Sebring office, doing field work in Polk
County due to the liability and benefits placed on the HSWCD.

VII. New Business
a. Contribution History & 2020 Requests – Bishop reviewed the ledgers of special projects for previous years. Discussion regarding recent requests took place. Bishop was directed to confirm with Warner University and South Florida State College that HSWCD scholarships were awarded to upper classmen who were in the Agriculture/Natural Resource degree programs. Motion made to contribute $600.00 to Florida FFA for the Natural Resource Award program (Deen/Smith). Unanimous approval. Motion made to contribute $50.00 to the Alachua SWCD for the State Land Judging Contest (Causey/Deen). Unanimous approval.
b. Blue Green Algae Presentation – The UF professor was requested to present her position on the blue green algae and will do so at the March 17 Board of Supervisor meeting. The Highlands County Cattlemen, Farm Bureau and Citrus Growers will be invited to send two representatives to attend the presentation too. Following this presentation the Board will consider having a community-wide outreach event/presentation.

VIII. Executive Director’s Report
Bishop asked for the Board’s opinion she attend the Lay of the Land conference again this year. The cost is $ 149 for the two day conference. Consensus was for Bishop to attend. The former discussion about the development of a HSWCD Grant Application was re-evaluated and decided for Bishop to create a simple form that can be distributed to organizations/individuals requesting funding. The form will not be “distributed”, but used when a request is received. Bishop shared recent correspondence with USDA-NRCS regarding the truck they provide to our MIL. The General Counsel for USDA has required all partners who drive Federal vehicles and are not Federal employees be aware they are not covered by the Federal Gov. insurance while operating the vehicle. Our policy does cover a non-owner driver for $1 million liability, but no comp. & collision is included since HSWCD does not own the vehicle. Our agent’s advice was to cease using the Federal vehicle. Following lengthy discussion the consensus of the Board was to cease use of the USDA truck for our MIL immediately. Bishop was directed to continue to seek advice from FDACS-OAWP concerning this issue. Bishop was also directed to request a quote from insurance agent to increase liability coverage to $2 million.

XI. Supervisor Comments
Fentress – Based on an article Fentress had shared with Bishop she asked Bishop to confirm it is ethically ok for HSWCD Supervisors to receive cost share dollars. Bishop will inquire and share her findings.
Deen – None
Causey – None
Smith – None
Kirouac – None

Meeting Adjourned 5:05 P.M.