County Commission to appoint new state’s attorneyA replacement state’s attorney appointed by the county commissioners will serve for the next two years.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
State’s Attorney Pat Smith told the Davison County commissioners Tuesday it will be up to them to appoint a replacement state’s attorney.
First, though, Smith drew a brief round of applause from the commissioners when he gave them official notice of his appointment as a judge in the First Judicial Circuit.
Monday, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Smith as the replacement for retiring Judge Sean O’Brien.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to this next step in my career,” Smith told the commissioners during the regular weekly meeting at the courthouse.
A replacement state’s attorney appointed by the county commissioners will serve for the next two years. In 2014, the office will be up for election to a shortened two-year term. At the end of that time, the office will be up for election to a full four-year term.
Smith said his biggest challenge will be to wrap up pending details in his own office, and doing so may require some overtime.
“I have enough money in my budget that I think we will be able to absorb it without going over,” he said.
After an upcoming meeting with Presiding Judge Steve Jensen, Smith said, “I will have a better idea of their expectations of me and when they would like me to start.” Smith said he will relay any scheduling decisions to the county commissioners so they can consider his replacement.
“We’re so tickled he will remain with us in our town and county,” Commission Chairman John Claggett said.
He added the commissioners will wait to learn Smith’s transition date before proceeding with the appointment process.
Smith had requested two executive sessions with the commissioners on Tuesday: the first to discuss the impact of his appointment on his staff and their concerns; and a second session to discuss the progress of jailers’ union negotiations.
No action was taken following those sessions.
Fischer still out
Commissioner Jerry Fischer was absent Tuesday and did not attend the meeting telephonically.
“I haven’t heard a thing from him,” Claggett said.
“I must know if he will be here on Nov. 8,” said Auditor Susan Kiepke, “and if he can’t appear telephonically you need to appoint someone else to the Canvassing Board.” It’s the job of that board to certify the results of the Nov. 6 general election.
Commissioner Kim Weitala said she will be unavailable Nov. 8 and asked Kiepke to appoint a replacement.
The second reading of a countywide load limit ordinance will also be on the Nov. 8 agenda. That ordinance, with a few exceptions, will set at 80,000 pounds the gross vehicle weight for trucks traveling paved county roads.
County Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml said he received multiple calls from area contractors after last week’s news story about moisture problems in the shower areas at the Davison County Jail.
Local contractor Keith Hunt, who attended Tuesday’s commission meeting, said his biggest concern is a common wall between two showers.
“If we disturb one side, I don’t know how we can keep from disturbing the other side,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult.”
Photos taken in 1995 when the jail was under construction show that the core of each wall in the jail is constructed of woven 1-inch-wide galvanized mesh as a security feature. A concrete mix was then troweled onto the wall to a thickness of 4 inches.
Troubles began in 1999 when stainless steel shower panels were placed over the already damaged walls. The walls continued to deteriorate, Ruml said, probably due to earlier water trapped within.
Moisture leached through the wall and deteriorated the concrete over the years, Hunt said. He recommended replacing the damaged concrete with a special sealant mixture, but that would depend on the condition of the interior metal mesh.
“If the inner core is destroyed I’d recommend replacing the solid core with a concrete block wall and special sealants,” Hunt said. “I think the problem can be solved.”
The commissioners gave Hunt the go-ahead to drill 2-inch exploration holes in the wall to determine the condition of the interior metal mesh.
Claggett said Hunt will not automatically be awarded a contract for the work, but he will be paid for inspection drilling.
Once the extent of damage is known, the commissioners will have the information they need on how proceed, he said.
Employee insurance going up
County employees will be paying about 9 percent more for health insurance in 2013, said Register of Deeds Deb Young, who heads up the county insurance committee.
Total premiums under the county’s Dakotacare options will run from $622 to $696 a month with the county paying about $584 per employee. Kiepke said 63 of the county’s 66 employees are on the plan.
Single employees would pay about $37 a month under the cheapest option, which has a $2,250 deductible, and $74 a month under the most expensive plan, which has a $1,500 deductible.
Young said the higher premiums were due to a large number of claims over the past year.
To help offset the increase in premiums, Young asked the commissioners to increase the county’s contribution to each employee’s flexible spending plan.
The commissioners approved the request, which will cost the county about $168 more per employee and $11,500 overall.
Commissioner Denny Kiner said the rising cost of benefits is threatening the county’s ability to attract and keep employees.
“We need to take a hard look at how competitive we are in the marketplace,” he said.