by Julie Ann Madden
In trying to cut down on the number of times they give constituents the “deer in the headlight” look, Union County Commissioners now require department heads to give monthly reports.
They can only require this of non-elected officials, therefore, no elected officials have taken the opportunity to speak with the commissioners at their meeting. The only exceptions are Union County States Attorney Jerry Miller and Sheriff Dan Limoges who are nearly always on the commission’s meeting agendas.
Sept. 4 was just the second time since the commissioners gave this directive.
Fair Manager Janet Lingle gave commissioners youth’s state fair results. She noted there were 84 animals and 226 exhibits entered in the state fair competition. The county’s Senior 4-H Photography Team placed second in the state.
She also asked if they wanted to start renting out the fairground buildings on “an event” basis instead of a long-term lease. A group was interested in renting the Community Building from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m., Oct. 27 to host a Halloween Party and then the following day to cleanup the facility.
Lingle also reported a door needed replaced on one of the buildings at the fairgrounds. She asked if they wanted her to have both the door and frame replaced or just the door. Doing both would cost $1,725 while just the door was $1,200. She was directed to replace both.
Community Health Nurse
Registered Nurse Lisa McInerney reported her personnel were giving a lot of flu vaccinations. Because of the shots’ availability, the groups of people who could receive the shots have been expanded
She also informed the board the Elk Point-Jefferson School District Backpack Program, which provides food for children over the weekends, had doubled the number of participants. Last year, in its inaugural debut, the program served 22 students in Grades PreK-5. This Fall, the number jumped to 46. Alcester and Beresford School Districts have their own Backpack Programs.
Director of Equalization Dawn Steckelberg reported the taxable assessment reevaluations for Jefferson Township have been completed. She is still waiting for property owners to return questionnaires.
Her employees are also revisiting properties which received flood-related tax abatements. They began with Riv-R-Land Estates, and she reported “a lot of the valuation revenues are coming back.”
Steckelberg noted with the county’s two tax appeals, one was dismissed by the Office of Hearing Examiners and the other was found in the county’s favor.
Planning & Zoning Office
Planning Director Dennis Henze presented the a Building Permit report, noting there had been $1.7 million in construction costs, netting the county $4,900 in building permit fees.
“Even after the flood, a lot of people are sticking money into their homes again,” said Henze.
With the rezoning of the Richland property, from residential to light industrial, for Mark’s Welding Inc., Sept. 5 was the last day for a referendum petition to be filed protesting the commissioners’ decision to rezone it. If the petition was not filed, Mark Vander Laan could apply for a building permit on Sept. 6. Editor’s Note: No referendum petition was filed.
At Riv-R-Land Estates, Henze was asked about abandoned properties which would now be considered nuisances. He reported there was one “potential hazard” out there and he was working with the owner.
Steckelberg reported two other abandoned properties had been sold.
Grounds & Buildings
Grounds & Building Superintendent Scott Sexton reported the courthouse building’s brick exterior tuck-pointing and window replacement projects were completed Aug. 24. He noted there were “engineering issues” as the engineer had not been available as required by the county’s agreement.
An air conditioning unit’s motor in the courthouse basement had gone out but this was covered through the county’s agreement with Honeywell Corporation.
With the sidewalk project around the courthouse, Sexton had discovered he couldn’t raise the sidewalk height like he’d planned so he removed dirt adjacent to the sidewalks and reseeded this area. This was done to ensure proper water drainage.
Courthouse parking lot striping was to be done soon.
“We still have green grass,” said Sexton, explaining they were probably the only ones still watering. “It looks good.”
Highway Department &
Public Works Administrator/Emergency Services Director Raymond Roggow has a scheduled time period to meet with the commissioners at every one of their meetings.
He presents them with an agenda of items he needs to have discussed and/or to have action taken upon.
At this meeting, he reported that easement issues with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resolution to do Missouri River bank work west of Elk Point had been resolved. The easements had been found in the Register of Deeds’ records — completed at an earlier time period than originally checked. Commissioners unanimously approved this resolution.
Roggow noted he had a right-of-way easement permit for Midwest Fiber Network to lay fiber optic wires through the city of Elk Point and through the county’s Port Property. Commissioners unanimously approved this permit.
Roggow reported FEMA reimbursement dollars may not arrive before the end of this fiscal year, which is Dec. 30. Therefore, he was requesting an automatic supplement action for about $200,000 be considered to supplement the Highway Department’s budget when the funds come in. These funds are earmarked for a truck purchase.
He explained he was still waiting for about $500,000 from FEMA Disaster Relief funds due to last year’s flooding. Some entities have waited several years before receiving the reimbursements.
Roggow also informed the commissioners he had not received any bills from state and federal officials for flood-related prisoners’ work, National Guard helicopter usage and extra security. Commissioners have received several bills for things that state officials authorized, telling Union County officials “there were no restrictions on state funds” during the 2011 Flood Disaster.
Roggow presented updates on several road/bridge projects:
• Bridge on County Road 15, west of Roseni Church, has been posted with a maximum load limit of 12 tons because the bridge’s “substructure with twin T’s is in bad shape….it’s cracked but sound.”
“We will be putting stop signs on each end, and (making it just one lane), allowing traffic to only drive in the center, one vehicle at a time,” said Roggow.
• County crew has finished road asphalt overlays for the year, including the West Sixth Street through Alcester, which will now be transferred to the city’s ownership.
• Midstates is crushing gravel for the county: 20,000 tons of base road material and 45,000 tons of surface material.
• A grant application for a communications tower has been submitted.
• Commissioners denied an appeal by Lance Johnson for a driveway entrance permit variance on County Road No. 15.
The county’s new entrance access ordinance requires a minimum of 1,000 feet between entrances on county roads.
Johnson has one driveway but was requesting another one 340 feet from the first. The new driveway would eliminate blind spots, increasing drivers’ safety on entering the roadway. Johnson wanted to keep the original driveway because the proposed driveway would not be wide enough to handle his farm equipment.
The vote was 1-4 with only Commissioner Marvin Schempp voting in favor of the variance.
States Attorney Jerry Miller reported he had prepared a license instead of a drainage easement for adjacent landowner, James Levich, to have drainage across the county’s Port Property.
He also created a 9-1-1 Ordinance for the commissioners.
Miller also informed the commission about an Open Meeting violation in regards to the Weed Board.
He requested travel authorization for his board assignments as he is a member of the South Dakota States Attorneys Association Board of Directors and serves as its Legislative Committee chairman. He also serves on the state’s South Dakota Association of County Welfare Officials as secretary.