Area races and issues: Hutchinson stays in water district, Gregory wheel tax proposal failsOLIVET — Hutchinson County residents decided Tuesday that the county should not withdraw from the James River Water Development District, and Gregory County won’t have a wheel tax.
By: Melanie Brandert, The Daily Republic
OLIVET — Hutchinson County residents decided Tuesday that the county should not withdraw from the James River Water Development District, and Gregory County won’t have a wheel tax.
Hutchinson County voters rejected their measure 1,540 to 1,154, with 56.4 percent voter turnout.
Darrell Raschke, JRWDD manager in Huron, said voters in Hutchinson County could see the advantage of being in the water district with the James River running through the county.
“They don’t mind paying a little bit of tax for some help,” he said.
Voters in Hand and Day counties, however, chose to leave the water district. Hand County voters approved the measure 59 percent to 41 percent, while Day County ratified it 61 percent to 39 percent.
Raschke said he wasn’t surprised that Hand County opted to withdraw because it had only been a member since January 2009. He said this will make it more difficult for that county to repair Rose Hill Dam, destroyed in last summer’s heavy rains, as the water district will no longer provide financial assistance.
“After today, we don’t have to worry about that,” he said.
Two proponents of leaving the district had said they believed the water district’s mission changed from developing irrigation and shifted to alleviating the impact of flooding on landowners in the basin. Elmer Bietz, of Tripp, called the latter effort hopeless because of the flat river and questioned why the water district helps communities with projects such as a water tower or sewer lagoon that aren’t the responsibility of river basin resident.
Bietz said he wasn’t entirely surprised the measure failed, though he did think that voters would approve leaving the water district.
“I think the unknown is probably what came out in the vote,” he said. “The people aren’t sure what would have happened.”
Raschke said water districts were created to promote conservation, development and management of water resources.
If Hutchinson County had withdrawn from the water district, any projects that James River worked on with state or federal agencies would have stopped at the county line. Raschke said those agencies would then ask counties to share costs on projects.
• Gregory County wheel tax: Voters, meanwhile, rejected a $16 maximum wheel tax — or $4 a wheel — Tuesday by a 1,324-to-711 tally. The tax would have generated an estimated $125,000 a year for road maintenance. Voter turnout was 61.2 percent.
• Tripp-Delmont School District: Voters opposed a measure 225 to 220 to change the school board’s representation from geographic areas to at-large seats. Business Manager Sherry Hansen said a recount would not take place unless someone requested it. Voter turnout was 44 percent.
• Aurora County Sheriff: Democrat incumbent David Fink, of Plankinton, won another term by beating Republican Ron Berens, of Plankinton, 971 to 409. Voter turnout was 74 percent.
• Bon Homme County Precinct 3 Commissioner: Democratic incumbent John Pesek, of Tyndall, retained his seat with 300 votes, compared to 237 votes for Republican Duane Bachmann, of Tyndall.
• Bon Homme County Register of Deeds: Democrat incumbent Sandra Frasier-Shaffer, of Tyndall, received 1,561 votes to defeat independent Amanda Boden, of Tyndall, who had 991 votes. Voter turnout was 62.9 percent.
• Brule County District 1 Commissioner: Independent James Nesladek, of Pukwana, won with 215 votes, with Democrat Rick Palmer, of Chamberlain, getting 205 votes. Voter turnout was 62.59 percent.
• Charles Mix County District 1 Commissioner: Democrat Jack Soulek, of Lake Andes, received 515 votes to win against Republican Francis Doom, of Wagner, who had 213 votes.
• Charles Mix County Auditor: Interim Auditor Sherri Fuchs, an independent from Wagner, defeated Democrat Jennifer Rucktaeschel, of Lake Andes, by a 2,117-to-1,106 vote tally.
• Charles Mix County Sheriff: Democrat Randy Thaler, of Lake Andes, won the race with 1,850 votes, followed by Republican James Chaney, of Platte, with 1,432 votes and independent Oitancan Zephier, of Greenwood, who had 185. Voter turnout was not available.
• Douglas County District 1 Commissioner: Independent Merlin VanZee, of Platte, defeated GOP incumbent Martin Drefs, of Harrison, by a 215-to-120 vote. Voter turnout was 68.5 percent.
• Gregory County District 3 Commissioner: Republican Gordon Miner, of Gregory defeated Democrat incumbent Denny Deffenbaugh, of Herrick, 235 votes to 194 votes.
• Hanson County District 3 Commissioner: Democratic incumbent Chester “Chet” McManus, of Fulton, retained his seat by defeating independent Larry Synhorst, of Fulton, 148 to 124.
• Hanson County Sheriff: Interim Sheriff Randy Bartlett, a Republican from Alexandria, won his first full term by trouncing Jim Lentsch, an independent from Salem, 1,352 to 283 votes. Voter turnout was 44 percent.
• Hutchinson County Auditor: GOP incumbent Jeanie Simonsen, of Menno, received 1,777 votes to defeat independent Vicky Fitzpatrick, of Olivet, who had 1,206 votes.
• Jerauld County District 1 Commissioner: Independent Fred Krohmer, of Wessington Springs, defeated independent incumbent Rick Easton, of Wessington Springs,122 to 80.
• Jerauld County Sheriff: Republican Jason Weber won the race with 622 votes, compared to 500 votes for Democrat Troy Swenson, of Pierre. Voter turnout was 74 percent.
• Jones County District 1 Commissioner: Democratic incumbent Helen Louder, of Draper, defeated Republican Travis Hendricks, of Vivian, 100 to 86.
• Jones County Sheriff: Republican John Weber, of Draper, won with 255 votes, followed by independent Rich Sylva, of Murdo, with 240 and independent Erik Crazy Bear, of Chamberlain, had 92. Voter turnout was 76.4 percent.
• Miner County Commissioner at large (three seats): GOP incumbent Don Bowman, of Fedora, Republican Roger Wentland, of Howard, and Democrat Pat Maroney, of Howard, were elected to three seats with 690, 665 and 608 votes, respectively. Democrat incumbent Rollin Schultz, of Canova, had 552. Voter turnout was 67 percent.
• Sanborn County District 5 Commissioner: Independent Gary Blindauer won the race with 81 votes, followed by Democratic incumbent Donald Moe with 77 votes and Republican Rodney Clarambeau, 52. All three men are from Letcher.
• Sanborn County Sheriff: GOP incumbent Tom Fridley, of Artesian, defeated Ray Westendorf, an independent from Lake Andes, 951 to 202. Voter turnout was 67.5 percent.
• Tripp County District 1 Commissioner: GOP incumbent Mark Winter, of Hamill, retained his seat with 276 votes. Democrat Cal Swenson, of Hamill, received 166 votes and independent Louis Polasky, of Winner, had 91. Voter turnout was 62.2 percent.
• Tripp County District 3 Commissioner: Republican incumbent Virgil Novotny, of Colome, won re-election against his nephew, independent Chuck Novotny, of Colome, by a 254-to-202 vote tally. Voter turnout was 68.9 percent.