Davison County Commission hears of hail damage to patrol vehicles, other propertyPanel also debates Fridays off for highway staff.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
The Davison County commissioners learned Tuesday that county property didn’t escape unscathed from Saturday’s hailstorm.
During the commissions’ regular weekly meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell, Sheriff Dave Miles said 11 patrol and jail vehicles received serious hail damage. Auditor Susan Kiepke said insurance adjusters will be in Mitchell this week checking on damage to other county vehicles and property.
Jail Administrator Don Radel said three skylights at the jail needed emergency repairs Saturday after being smashed out by hail.
In other business, Commissioner John Claggett questioned Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg about the shutdown of the county Highway Department on Fridays. The commissioners approved the switch to four, 10-hour days for road crews, an adjustment done each year to allow county crews to take advantage of longer summer daylight hours.
Claggett said he didn’t realize the change would extend to highway office staff.
“It doesn’t make any sense that we don’t have a five-day presence at the office,” he said.
Commissioner Gerald Weiss added, “At least one person should be there on Friday.”
Weinberg said previous experience showed that the 10-hour days work equally well for office staff.
“Once people realize that we aren’t there on Fridays, they stop calling anyway,” he said, adding that having Friday off allows office staff to take care of doctor visits and other personal matters.
Claggett said the matter will be discussed further, but in the meantime he directed Weinberg to have county cell phones set up to pick up calls from the Highway Department so that public concerns may be addressed.
The commissioners also:
• Heard, in an unscheduled issue, Chief Deputy Steve Brink say the cost of narrowbanding department radios to meet new state radio standards has been less expensive than originally anticipated. He asked for permission to use $6,000 to $7,000 of the remaining funds to upgrade about five of the county’s Taser stun guns. The narrow-banding initiative compresses state and county communication frequencies into a smaller range, freeing up frequencies for other uses. Claggett said the commission will consider the Taser request next week, and he reserved a 10:15 slot on the agenda.
• Were reminded by Mitchell Mayor Lou Sebert, who was wearing a red T-shirt that said “I (heart) Travel” that it’s Travel Week in South Dakota.
• Approved, at the request of Director of Equalization Kathy Goetsch, probationary wage increases of 50 cents an hour for Carla Wittstruck and Christi Smith.
In a related matter, the commissioners considered a request from Treasurer Brenda Veldheer to upgrade the salaries of her deputies, which are lower than those received by deputies in other Davison County departments and other counties, she said.
The commissioners took the request under advisement.
The request underscores the need for a complete county wage survey, Commissioner Denny Kiner said, and Veldheer agreed.
“We need to know the difference in the duties and responsibilities between various offices and jobs,” he said.
• Confirmed that the responsibility for processing passport applications will be transferred from the Treasurer’s Office to the Auditor’s Office.
When that will happen isn’t clear. Auditor Susan Kiepke said her calls and requests to the U.S. Passport Agency for training options and information are not being answered.
The county receives about 20 passport applications a month, said Veldheer, who said lengthy processing times slow down the receipt of property taxes and the processing of vehicle registrations in her office.
• Approved a waiver that will let salaried Sheriff’s Department employees receive overtime pay for the purposes of allowing them to participate in a federal highway alcohol grant. The waiver will make the salaried workers eligible for the federal grant money after working more than 40 hours a week.
• Presented a plaque and gave a standing ovation to 27-year county employee Judy Geraets, a deputy in the Treasurer’s Office. “Thank you for your service,” said Claggett on behalf of the commissioners. Earlier, in closed executive session, the commissioners held a brief exit interview with Geraets.
• Approved a caulking bid from Mike Kroger Masonry & Restoration, of Dell Rapids, for $3,664, to seal expansion cracks and other spots on the county Public Safety Building on Miller Avenue. Rejected bids were from Zimmer Caulking of Mitchell, for $4,200; and from Midwest Masonry Restoration of Parkston, for $9,200.
Sitting as the Board of Adjustment, the commissioners:
• Approved, in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Jerry Fischer dissenting, a request from Willard and Andrea Martin to create a new 6.5-acre lot from a larger property they own, which will be sold to a friend for construction of a residence. Mrs. Meyer said her husband suffered a heart attack and the couple is unable to care for proper ty, and selling it would offer some relief.
Fischer said he wasn’t certain Meyer’s case constituted a true “hardship” as defined by county zoning rules. There are plenty of cases where landowners have medical conditions, said Fischer but whether those conditions should be an allowable reason for property subdivision remains to be seen. Commissioner Jerry Fischer said the definition of what constitutes a hardship must be further clarified under county ordinances.
• Approved a lot-size variance request from Jarold and Jeanette Gebels to separate a 21-acre farmstead from their agricultural property at 24679 Highway 37, so that the farmstead, consist ing of the original farmhouse and surrounding property, can be sold.
• Approved a 22-acre lot variance (the regular minimum is 25 acres) for applicant Eric Neugebauer, which will allow the applicant to build a residence on a 3-acre lot he owns in the northeast quarter of Section 6, Rome Township.