Highlights of 2021

Here is a partial list of the highlights of 2021.  2021 was dominated by COVID so it is with pleasure that we all can say good-bye to 2021 and look forward to a better 2022.


  • Oxbow Park’s Bison herd selected to improve genetics for other bison herds in the United States
  • Distribution of $3,089,968 COVID relieve dollars for businesses started
  • COVID vaccination are underway


  • As of 2/2/21, about 18.5% of the population in Olmsted County was vaccinated.
  • Demolition of the Seneca site began
  • Olmsted County distributed $8.7 Million to small businesses and non-profits to help recover from COVID losses
  • Veteran Services continued serve the veterans in spite of the pandemic
  • As of February 17, 24.2% of the people in Olmsted County had received at least one shot; 35% of people 65 years old and older had received at least one COVID shot.


  • Working remotely becomes a standard
  • Olmsted County residents beat the nation average on returning self-reported census forms with a 75.1% return rate
  • Entrance fee at Chesterwood Park dropped
  • On-line applications and permitted began
  • Low-income housing for people with disabilities is underway at Mayowood Road


  • As of April 6, 45% of the eligible age population had received at least one dose of vaccine.  88% of 65+ was vaccinated.  16 year old population are now eligible for vaccinations.
  • Olmsted County awaits census information to begin the redistricting process
  • A 65+ health fair at 125 Live was sponsored by Olmsted County Public Health
  • $331,249 was the average sold price of a Single Family Home
  • A 1 Megawatt solar system is being built on County Property
  • The Demolition Landfill began expansion


  • A Joint Powers Board for the Greater Zumbro River Watershed was approved
  • Census information reveals that Minnesota grew by 7.6% from 2010.  The official population of Minnesota is now 5,706,494
  • Minnesota kept all eight of Congressional seats by only 89 people
  • The $7 Million dollars improvement and construction of the Zollman Zoo (Oxbow Park) nature center began


  • The annual tree sale hosted by Olmsted County Soil and Water Conservation District sold 13,600 trees to 248 customers
  • The annual tree sale hosted by Olmsted County Soil and Water Conservation District sold 13,600 trees to 248 customers.
  • This was the first year that SWCD sold live plants and seeds; 2,592 live plants indigenous to Minnesota and 65,340 square feet of seeds was sold.
  • Sheriff’s Office reports that application for gun permits were up
  • The 102nd death due to COVID was reported
  • The repainting of the Corn Tower began


  • Olmsted County received good audit with “no significant deficiencies” from Baker Tilly US accounting firm
  • Community Outreach team receives positive accolades as they work alongside the Rochester Police Department and Olmsted Deputies
  • Social Service Kiosks were installed to make it easier for clients to apply and receive county aid
  • “A Community United” event was sponsored by the County for all those agencies working together to get us past the COVID epidemic.
  • The “Age Friendly in Olmsted County” report was released


  • The Southeast Regional Crisis Center opened
  • The County began requiring masks in all County buildings
  • The County Fair was held in spite of the pandemic
  • $30 million American Rescue dollars was received from the Federal Government
  • 5 buildable lots for provided to non-profits to build low-income housing
  • Olmsted partnered with local veterinarians to host the 63rd annual rabies clinics
  • The 2020 Census data revealed that Olmsted County was the fourth fastest growing county in Minnesota.  Olmsted grew at rate of 12.9%; about 17,000 people


  • The Corn Tower painting was completed and a recognition of the tower and history of the Seneca/Reed and Murdock plant was observed


  • The County’s six-acre Solar Field was completed and producing electricity
  • Olmsted County has started a process to rapidly connect homeless with housing opportunities.  The ECHO team located in same location as the warming shelter so that an immediate connection can be made with the homeless.
  • Two bonds were refinanced that saved $318,00 over the life of the bonds; the bonds will be paid off in 2033.
  • The County Board expressed dissatisfaction with Minnesota Department of Transportation over its slow approval of the reconstruction of the intersection at Highway 14 and County 44.
  • Olmsted County opens the low-income housing for people with disabilities at the Mayowood Road site
  • Olmsted receive Aaa rating from Moody’s
  • Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Olmsted County began the process of building and managing a Senior Housing project on Mayowood Road


  • Road Construction on County 101 was started
  • County Planning continues to review and update the County Land Use Plan
  • Toolkits about redistricting were developed and printed by the county
  • The Annual Disabled Veterans deer hunt was held at Chesterwood


  • 4,000 randomly selected households in Olmsted County were mailed a survey regarding the health status of Olmsted County
  • Redistricting session were started via distance
  • Homeless numbers decrease as revealed by the annual homeless count.
  • pilot project to provide meals and reduce hunger in Olmsted County started
  • Since 2018 Olmsted County has increased rental units for low-income families by 225
  • A five-year capital improvement plan of $373 million was approved.


Thein Elected Board Chair; Wright Elected as Vice Chair

The County Board Chair and Vice Chair changes every year; Mark Thein was elected as the 2022 Board Chair (he was the Vice Chair in 2021).  It has been a long-standing procedure that the Board Chair has a one-year tenure and rotates through all the board members.  The stability that this provides is further enhanced by an administrative committee that is made up of the past board chair, the current board chair, and the current vice chair (Podulke, Thein, Wright).


Public Comment on the General Land Use Plan

The Planning department is updating the General Land Use Plan (GLUP).  This long-range plan is updated every five years and is used to create a policy framework for the county’s land use management.  The draft GLUP looks to the future to 2045.  This process sets the land use policies that define the County’s vision of how, when, and where growth, redevelopment, and preservation should occur.


You are invited to review the draft GLUP and provide your comments and suggestions.  To access the county website go to the following site and then click on the StoryMap link:   https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/business/building-development-gis/planning-land-use-zoning/general-land-use-plan-update-information


County Planning has included summaries, and factors that influence policies and implementation strategies.  View the following topics in the County’s  GLUPdate 2045 StoryMap collection :

  • Land Use Planning 101
  • Geography and units of government
  • Olmsted County soils
  • Geology
  • Water
  • Environmental Corridors
  • Demographics
  • The economy
  • Cultural resources
  • Values, principles, and policies
  • Environmental justice
  • Land cover and land use

Links are provided on the  GLUP webpage  to allow residents to ask questions and share comments.  Residents can also subscribe to receive notification about future public meetings and hearings.

Influenza Like Illness (ILI)

Public Health reports that people are coming down with a flu-like illness that is not Covid, and not the flu.  It is being called “ILI” Influenza Like Illness.  We are also in the flu season and some people are contracting the flu.

Difficulty Keeping Up with Testing

The Mayo testing site is seeing 5,000 people per day and having trouble keeping up with the demand for tests.  More staff and resources have been assigned to help alleviate the demand.  Olmsted County Public Health works with the health care providers, Mayo and Olmsted Medical, to collaborate on strategies to increase the testing services.

Refinancing Bonds Saves $1,700,000

I supported Board action that will refinance current General Obligation Bonds.  The current interest rate is about 4% and the expected refinanced rate is about 2%.  The refinancing process and final refinance rate will be finalized in February.  This action is expected to save the County $1.7 million dollars over the life of the bond ($116,000 per year) until 2036.

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