Weitala's widow chosen to succeed himKim Weitala will succeed her late husband David Weitala as Davison County’s District 1 county commissioner.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Kim Weitala will succeed her late husband David Weitala as Davison County’s District 1 county commissioner.
David Weitala died Jan. 17 from a heart attack after shoveling snow.
The county commissioners made the unanimous decision Tuesday at the courthouse in Mitchell to appoint Kim Weitala after interviewing her, as well as local businessman Bryan Dixon, for the open chair on the county board.
Auditor Susan Kiepke, at the commissioners’ direction, immediately called Weitala and notified her of the board’s decision.
“I told them I was honored and I accepted the position,” Weitala said after the meeting in a phone interview with The Daily Republic. “I look forward to working with the commission.”
Kim said after her husband’s death that she wanted to carry on her husband’s legacy of public service. She has been a 25-year employee at the Mitchell office of AAA of South Dakota, and the manager of that office for the past 17 years.
Asked by Commissioner Gerald Weiss to name her negative qualities, Weitala said, “I’m red-headed, so I can be stubborn.”
Applicant Bryan Dixon, a Mitchell native who owns the Coachlight Motel, said he was running to give the commissioners a choice of candidates.
In his interview, he stressed the importance of better city-county cooperation. It’s becoming more apparent city offices will be moved from the current City Hall, he said.
“I don’t know why the city and the county can’t get together on a joint project,” he said during the meeting.
After learning of the commissioners’ choice to appoint Weitala, Dixon said, “I wish her well.”
Weitala will take her temporary seat as District 1 commissioner on Tuesday. She will have to run in November’s general election is she wishes to remain on the commission.
Drainage Administrator Dan Sudrla requested and received the commission’s opinion on a case pending before the County Drainage Board.
That board meets at 5:30 p.m. today in the Commissioners’ Room at the courthouse, unless there is a weather delay, Sudrla said.
The main agenda issue is a drainage application from Kevin Gebel for drainage work that has already been completed on his property south of 247th Street and east of Highway 37.
Gebel applied, after the fact, with the Drainage Board for a permit but that permit request was denied by the board until Gebel came up with a plan to restrict flows from the new drainage project.
Gebel has since met with neighbors to develop such a plan, Sudrla said, but no one knows how water will be displaced by Gebel’s project or how much those flows should be restricted. The commissioners said Tuesday any engineering costs to determine those flows and restrictions should be borne by the applicant, and not by the county.
The board could refer Gebel’s original failure to secure a drain permit to the state’s attorney for prosecution, but there are no plans to do so at this time, Sudrla said.
“The Drainage Board is trying to work with everybody involved and make the situation work,” he said.
The commissioners, still not satisfied with part-time passport service, asked Auditor Kiepke to work with them to shift the responsibility for passport processing to her office. Treasurer Brenda Veldheer has consistently held that her office is too busy to offer full-time passport services.
Veldheer offered the commissioners survey information Tuesday that showed only 11 county offices statewide handle passports, but 47 counties have some sort of non-county-government agency available to process passports, such as post offices or clerks of courts (clerks are technically part of the state judiciary system). Of those 47 offices, 22 offices have limited hours for processing passports.
Veldheer said passport applications can always be handled at the Mitchell post office and applications can easily be made online using a credit card for payment.
Kiepke said she will try to develop a working agreement between her office and Veldheer’s to make the changeover, and that she will report to the commissioners at a future meeting.
Claggett for mayor
Commissioner John Claggett received feedback from his fellow commissioners on his plan to enter the Mitchell mayoral race and to remain on as county commissioner.
Commissioner Jerry Fischer said candidly, “I think you should pick one or the other and my preference would be that you stay on as county commissioner. We work well together.”
Commissioner Weiss said simply, “You look pretty good in that (commission) seat.”
Commissioner Kiner joked, “If you’re leaving, I’m leaving.”
In other business the commissioners:
-Learned that it will cost about $50,000 to $60,000 instead of $30,000 to move a one-mile section of three-phase power line on County Highway 41 in the extreme south end of the county. The rolling section of highway, which includes a new box culvert, will be re-graded and made safer, Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg said. The section of road will also require a 10-inch gravel base instead of a planned 6-inch base, to meet state highway standards, Weinberg said, but those costs will be covered by federal highway money distributed through the state Department of Transportation.
-Scheduled a 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. March 9 walkthrough of the Central Electric offices on North Main Street to get a better idea of any plumbing or electrical issues the county will face in adapting the space for use of the county nurses.
-Learned the Planning and Development District III legislative dinner will be held March 15 at the Mitchell Technical Institute south campus.