Because Election Day was November 6, Hand County Commissioners instead met November 8. One of their duties was to canvas the ballots from the election.
The commissioners approved a Bottum Subdivision Plat, and also a plat presented by attorney Greg Rediger for Nye Tract #1 in Linn Township.
Avera Hand County Hospital administrator Bryan Breitling reported asbestos has been removed from the 1969 hospital addition, and the bill for that work totaled $15,906.90, and will be paid with USDA funds. The removal of asbestos from the 1947 building, and its demolition, are still to come.
Brietling said that as of December 4, the monthly bill to USDA will be $22,995—principal and interest—and will be due each month for about the next 18 years.
Highway superintendent Jeff Hargens reported the county-city-school surplus sale went well. A bid to purchase the County’s motor grader was upped to $77,000 by John Deere, which the commissioners accepted.
Discussion was held about purchasing or leasing a new motor grader, which is on a bid list, but wouldn’t be available until May 2013. The commissioners agreed to go with a five-year payment plan, with seven-year warranty, with a lease and option to purchase. However, the County is not locked into the option at this point.
The Department of Transportation has offered the State Highway building in Miller to the County for $50,000. State’s attorney Elton Anson recommended the commissioners inspect the building and land before signing any agreements. The commissioners will do the inspection before making any decision.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was again on the agenda to discuss their offer to purchase 40 acres of land in Bates Township. Their offer was a lump sum of $4,800 plus $82.44 per year in lieu of taxes. Action was tabled in October, but A USFW representative was not present November 8.
Assessor Terry Augspurger, however, did tell the commissioners that numbers he came up with did not agree with the numbers USFW had provided regarding value and current taxes. Augspurger said value of the 40 acres came to $27,044.07, and taxes would be $193 per year for that portion of land. The commissioners agreed to table any action until a USFW representative is present.
Jim Henson gave the sheriff’s report in Sheriff Doug DeBoer’s absence. Henson said he has been hired for a position with the Miller Police Department, and his last day with the County will be November 20. The commissioners accepted his letter of resignation and approved DeBoer’s request to re-explore persons who applied during the previous application period and offer a job if an applicant is available.
The sheriff has removed Frank Blair, Doug Davis and Tim Flor from the department’s list of law enforcement employees, as “unscheduled part-time employees.” Current City officers and Jim Keeter are the only reserves presently available.
The sheriff’s office has been informed Highway Safety Grant funds were awarded to support the grant in 2013. Regarding the 2009-2014 COPS Grant, the total grant was for $168,838, and the balance of that grant is $105,855.75. Deputy Ken Heronimus will be the deputy on the COPS Grant program.
Henson said that Randy Peck, Weed Office, had asked approval to purchase a new computer and radios, and the commissioners approved that request.
Courthouse custodian Elaine Carey talked about the new generator ordered for the courthouse. The generator will be placed outside the building. She noted the tank needs to set on a slab of concrete, and the generator sets on top of the concrete. The generator is waiting to be delivered, but she did not have the 140-gallon tank. The commissioners said a tank could either be built, or they would make inquiries to find one. They instructed Carey to get the concrete poured as soon as possible, so the tank and generator can be placed.
Carey said the generator will primarily keep the sheriff’s office running, because a power “surge” could affect computers in other offices.
Emergency manager Nehemia Volquardsen discussed his activities and training received over the last month. He reported that Hand County has received an award of $12,000 from the State Homeland Security Grant Program, with funds to be used for security cameras and keyless entry for the Miller School District. A request was not approved for a generator for St. Lawrence, but Volquardsen said some reallocation funds remained from 2010, and he resubmitted that request.
Various hazard material items are being distributed to fire departments in the County, because he said those resources available to the departments that would use them.
Volquardsen reported he has presented council meetings of Miller and St. Lawrence regarding the Hazard Mitigation Project Grant. FEMA now requires signatures from local governments showing their backing and interest.
The County Highway Department is asking permission to purchase a new repeater for their Vayland site. Volquardsen asked permission to spend up to $4,000 from 911 funds to install a relay station at the Vayland site to help with the poor communication with the 911 responders at Huron. He said he believes he and the sheriff could complete the project for less than that.
“911 calls are not coming through. The relay station won’t solve the problem, but hopefully will mitigate it,” he said. “In order to solve the problem, we will need to find out what is causing the interference with our signal or change frequencies to a frequency that is not affected. These are costly investments.”
Volquardsen said there are also issues with radio reception, and said the wind towers seem to cause interference.
Auditor Sandra Selting reported the unreserved, undesignated fund balance as of September 30 was $977,060.49, or 39.95 percent of the 2013 general fund budget.
The next commission meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 9:30 a.m.