County redrawing districts; initial plan irks FischerDavison County Commissioner Jerry Fischer expressed frustration Tuesday with the county’s proposed redistricting.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Davison County Commissioner Jerry Fischer expressed frustration Tuesday with the county’s proposed redistricting.
The redistricting discussion was not listed on the commission’s published agenda, but was added at the last minute as part of an amended agenda. The meeting was at the courthouse in Mitchell.
Fischer was aware that redistricting was a pending issue, but said he was assured by Auditor Susan Kiepke that there would be no major changes in his district, which essentially covers southeast Mitchell. As it turned out, District 2 boundaries would be changed considerably by the proposal.
The northern boundary would be moved from Sixth to Fourth Avenue, the western boundary from Main Street to Sanborn Boulevard, the eastern boundary to recently annexed areas on the eastern city limits, and the southern boundary to areas south of Interstate 90, the previous District 2 limit.
Fischer said he didn’t see the changes coming.
“When I unrolled the map Tuesday morning, it was the first I learned of it,” he said.
Fischer told Kiepke that he would have welcomed an opportunity to give input when the map was being drawn.
Fischer complained that the new boundary lines are ragged, sprawling and “make no sense.”
Kiepke said there was no way to avoid extending lines, because Mitchell has annexed additional property to the northwest and east since the boundaries were last drawn.
Kiepke said the commissioners were aware she was working on redistricting and the issue should not have been a surprise. Governments at all levels are required to redistrict using the new 2010 census data.
Kiepke and Harry Redman, geographic information system coordinator for Planning and Development District III, worked several hours to balance commission districts to accommodate voting wards recently outlined by the city of Mitchell.
Kiepke said the redrawn GIS map became available earlier than expected and the last-minute agenda addition was an effort to get discussion rolling on a redistricting plan. Any final plan would need commissioner approval and proper public notice before it could be adopted, she said.
Davison County has a population of 19,504, according to the 2010 census.
If county population is equally divided among the five commissioner districts, each would represent about 3,900 residents. An even division is difficult to achieve, but by law, there can’t be greater than 10 percent variance between districts.
Under the plan presented Tuesday by Kiepke, District 1 Commissioner David Weitala, who serves southwest Mitchell, would have 3,903 residents; District 2 Commissioner Fischer, 3,822 residents; District 3 Commissioner Gerald Weiss, 3,932 residents in Ethan, Mount Vernon and rural areas; District 4 Commissioner Denny Kiner, 4,040 residents in northeast Mitchell and other northern and northeastern parts of the county; and District 5 Commissioner John Claggett, 3,807 residents in northwestern Mitchell.
Kiepke said her next job, with Redman’s help, will be to refine the district map by overlaying city precincts.
Commissioner Weiss’ main concern wasn’t the number of voters but getting voters accustomed to whatever plan is eventually selected.
“What I worry about is that the new lines could confuse voters,” he said.
Fischer notified The Daily Republic by phone Tuesday afternoon that he has contacted Redman, who will attend next week’s commission meeting and has been placed on the official agenda.
Health nurse report
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners heard a quarterly health report from Community Health Nurse Shannon Tobin.
She said during the past quarter, there were 243 immunizations and tuberculosis skin tests. A total of 27,276 Women, Infants and Children coupons were redeemed from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 for a redeemed value of $400,027. Statewide, 783,614 WIC instruments were redeemed with a value of $11,035,014.
In that same period, 436 new clients were seen for family planning services in the county. Also, 73 rapid HIV tests have been completed by the county office since Jan. 1.
Tobin said 55.6 percent of South Dakotans were vaccinated against influenza in 2010, better than the 43 percent national average.
Softball at fairgrounds
The commissioners met briefly with Jim Misiaszek and Dave Huber of the Mitchell Softball Association about girls’ fastpitch teams potentially practicing at the county fairgrounds facility on Sundays and possibility Thursday evenings for a total of 30 sessions.
Misiaszek assured the commissioners that no county property would be damaged during practice, because the players use an enclosed area for batting practice and nets for pitching and catching practice. The association also carries liability insurance, he said.
Commissioner Denny Kiner said the proposal should also be run past the County Fair Board for input. The matter will be placed on next week’s commission agenda for further consideration.
Huber is a parent supporting the program and is not associated with Dakota Wesleyan University’s softball program, as was reported in a previous edition of The Daily Republic.
In other business, commissioners:
* Approved the purchase of a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup patrol vehicle for the Sheriff’s Office. The truck will be purchased through Billion Auto of Sioux Falls under a state base bid of $24,058. About $5,000 more will be needed to fully equip the vehicle, said Chief Deputy Steve Brink. The purchase will come out of the departmental 2012 budget.
* Designated as surplus eight Glock .40 caliber departmental pistols so they can be traded in for new models with Neve’s Uniforms and Equipment, of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. With the trade-in allowance, the county will pay a total of $1,192 for eight new pistols.