Hand County Commissioners held their January meeting on the 8th. The first order of business was JD Wangsness taking the oath of office as District Four commissioner. He will serve a four-year term, and takes the seat previously held by Todd Waring, who did not seek re-election.
The commissioners reorganized for the coming year. Luke Wernsmann was elected chairman, and Ronald Campbell was named vice-chair.
Committee appointments were as follows: NECOG and Extension Board, Wangsness; Economic Development and Tourism, and Library Board, Campbell; Weed Board and Domestic Abuse, Larry Rowen; Health Advisory Board, Jim Iverson.
Department Liaisons are: Sheriff’s department, State’s Attorney, Campbell; 4-H and VSO office, Iverson; Weed Office and custodian, Wangsness; Auditor and Register of Deeds, Wernsmann; Director of Equalization, Treasurer and Library, Rowen.
Commissioner’s kept the same requirements for aerial applicators; snow removal/sanding/weight policy; weight and speed limit policy; partial tax payments; and county burials/coroner. The Miller Press is the official newspaper for notices, and official depositories are Quoin Financial Bank and American Bank & Trust. The wage scale reflects a 30-cent-per-hour increase for County employees, with base pay increasing from $8.70 to $8.85 per hour.
The commissioners approved plat requests from Darryl Chapin, land acquired from Wilber Ellis; and Richard Major, plat for a grassland easement.
Hospital administrator Bryan Breitling presented the Number 25 payment request for December for the hospital expansion/renovation. The request for work completed (including $25,387.50 for demolition of old hospital) totaled $57,431.38, and $2,584.41 for construction management fees, for a total of $60,015.79, to be paid through USDA.
Breitling explained to the new commissioner that $2 million of the project came from local funding, and $2.9 million through a USDA loan, administered by Hand County.
“Our goal is to have everything done by June, and hold a grand opening over the July 4 weekend,” Breitling stated.
Nehemia Volquardsen, emergency management, told the commissioners that approximately 250 members of the public are signed up for the Nixle program, which provides important alerts, and he would like to see 100 percent participation by public safety personnel in the County. Alerts are delivered to cell phones and e-mail at no cost.
Volquardsen said the office has received approval for expenditure of Hazard Mitigation Grand Funds from the state Office of Emergency Management. The County is to pay $3,375 for a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan (PDM) update, which covers five years. The goal of PDM is to outline hazards within the county and then target and mitigate the hazards. “There are plenty of funds out there if the county or its municipalities were ever to choose to use it,” he stated.
Commissioners approved the amount for the update. By doing so, it gives the County the “key to the war chest, if we use it,” Commissioner Iverson commented.
Sheriff Doug DeBoer was given permission to re-advertise for a dispatcher position.
The next meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 5, beginning at 9:30 a.m.