Hand County Commissioners held their monthly meeting August 6.
The commissioners approved the Dakota Care insurance plan for county employees for the coming year.
They also declined a request for payment from Avera St. Luke’s on a voluntary mental hold, because authorization had not been requested.
Hospital administrator Bryan Breitling was not present, but did send his report and payment request. Partial payment #32 totaled $76,258.20; construction management fees were $8,01.57; and architecture fees were $798.10, for a total of $85,857,87. In his report, Breitling stated, “We are at the end of the (hospital) contract, all that is left is punch list items. The parking lot is being paid for by hospital capital dollars, not part of the project contract. There is still some self performed work to be completed, such as the landscaping and remaining clinic items.”
Courthouse custodian Elaine Cary present a quote from Hughes Electric, Ree Heights, for wiring the courthouse so the entire building, except the elevator, can run off the generator during an outage.
The quote was for $10,989.33, with a five percent discount if the work can be completed after October 1. The commissioners accepted the quote, allowing the work to take place after October 1.
Jeff Hargens, highway superintendent, reported a bridge in Wheaton Township will be repaired, using FEMA funds. The total cost will be between $169,000 and $174,000, plus engineering fees. Cost to the county will be about $27,000.
Hargens said a couple more bridges need to be repaired, and he has the pipe on hand to do so.
He reported Dahme Construction is now crushing gravel at the “Woodruff gravel pit” south of Vayland, for use by the highway department. He added the pavement on a road south of Highmore is being ground up, and Hand County might be able to get some of the product.
Hargens said he plans to continue to use the present highway shop, because it has more space than at the former Department of Transportation site. He offered the County Weed Department use of the DOT shop for their needs.
Randy Peck, weed department, reported damage had been done to a Ranger utility vehicle in an accident, and repair cost was $510.
Peck had photos showing that some farmers are planting crops into ditches, nearly up to the road surface. The commissioners agreed the practice takes away grasses, and only weeds come back. Commissioner Jim Iverson noted the practice of not observing the ditch setback also endangers the structure of the road.
Grand Township landowner Clair Bonebright complained about drainage. He produced maps that showed creeks had drained north; however, since work was done in 2011, water is draining south and east.
The commissioners said the Corps of Engineers authorized cleaning silt out of Pearl Creek, and Bonebright contended the work “blocked” the area going north.
The commissioners said the commission authorized the engineers to do the survey, and work proceeded according to directions from the Corps of Engineers.
Bonebright maintained the Corps did not authorize the blockage, and he wants that blockage removed, so water will move both north and south. “When you altered the flow, who’s supposed to take all that water?” he asked.
The commissioners noted that there continues to be increased water problems as more and more ground is broken for cropland. As for lowering the “blockage,” they said that decision would be up to the state.
Bonebright argued that the Corps did not authorize the blockage. “It (the water) shouldn’t go south and flood us out. All I’m asking is for you to be fair.”
The commissioners stated they did not have the authority to go above the Corps of Engineers’ decision.
Benny Snodgrass, who lives in Gilbert Township north of Bonebright, offered his theory of when the water began flowing north. He said there used to be a “good gravel hill,” but then the gravel was cut out. “That’s when it started going north,” he said.
Sheriff Doug DeBoer received approval to hire a full-time office manager, and also to offer a deputy sheriff position to one of two applicants.
The commissioners approved a list of items from the sheriff’s office to be declared surplus.
DeBoer said he had not heard if the office was approved for a 2013-14 Highway Safety Grant or for an extension of the COPS grant.
To date, the sheriff’s office has responded and written 286 case reports; served 148 processes; taken 136 pistol permit applications; investigated 31 non-injury, six injury and one fatal traffic accidents; issued 84 traffic tickets and 175 traffic warnings; served 59 judgments and seven distress warrants for taxes; and responded to two unattended deaths. Fifty-six Hand County warrants are open. Up to August 1, 10 adult prisoners have been in detention for a total of 181 days.
DeBoer and emergency manager Nehemia Volquardsen reported on the status of emergency shelter in case of a short-term event (tornado, etc.). The courthouse is readied for emergency shelter, volunteers have agreed to help, and the Miller Police Department will unlock the doors during non-business hours, when available. Most seeking shelter will go to the courthouse basement. Those with limited mobility will stay on the first floor. The two have also met with the Miller City Council and with Father Murtha, St. Ann Catholic Church, about using that church and other churches as shelter for a short-term event.
An application has been completed for Homeland Security funds ($5,200) for an automated transfer switch for the courthouse, so the generator power could be transitioned automatically.
Volquardsen will also be taking CERT training (Community Emergency Response Teams).
The next regular commission meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 9:30 a.m.