Speed, weight rules on Davison Co. roads stallSeveral farmers and truckers filled the third-floor Davison County Courthouse courtroom Tuesday in Mitchell to protest the first reading of an ordinance limiting truck weights and speeds on most paved county roads.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Several farmers and truckers filled the third-floor Davison County Courthouse courtroom Tuesday in Mitchell to protest the first reading of an ordinance limiting truck weights and speeds on most paved county roads.
The problem is, there was no first reading, and no prepared ordinance.
Auditor Susan Kiepke said the county, as required by law, published an official notice stating that there would be public hearing of a weight limit ordinance, but no final draft of the proposed ordinance was submitted to her office by the Highway Department.
Instead, the proposed changes were submitted as a commission resolution. The difference is that the latter doesn’t carry the force of law.
The commissioners instead used the opportunity as a public discussion time about lowering truck weights on most paved county roads to 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, and truck speeds to 40 mph on specified roads. Commissioners Jerry Fischer and Kim Weitala were absent Tuesday.
Family farmer Chet Edinger, who repeated arguments made in past meetings with the commissioners, spoke in favor of higher weight limits for trucks.
Edinger said semis with multiple axles and wheels spread load weights over a wider area and do less damage to paved roads than vehicles with fewer axles, which concentrate weights on pavement.
“Gravity box grain trailers are the worst thing to have on the road,” he said. “They do twice the damage of an 80,000-pound truck.”
Heavier multi-wheeled vehicles also give less road wear, since they require fewer trips to transport the same amount of goods, he said.
Trucker Don DeBoer supported Edinger.
“We don’t go out of our way to wreck roads,” he said. DeBoer also supported centralized hauling roads.
Jim Morken, manager at the CHS Farmers Alliance elevator in Mitchell, said his company has invested in semis and trailers for efficient hauling. Lowering weight limits, he said, “would raise the costs of everything we do.”
Implement dealer Dan Noteboom said lower limits would raise the cost of production and make farmers less competitive locally and globally.
Edinger also explained that slower truck speeds only keep loads on pavement for a longer time instead of moving weights off roads more quickly. Slower truck speeds would also frustrate the drivers of fastermoving vehicles, creating unsafe passing situations.
Bryan Vanderpol of Vanderpol Dragline, of Mitchell, said it would be nearly impossible to avoid paved county roads while doing stock dam cleanout operations. He asked for options.
Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg said specific overweight cases can be accommodated with overweight permits.
But Weinberg said that county roads have an insufficient gravel base to carry the weights they receive. County roads are generally gravel roads with a 2-inch layer of asphalt.
Weinberg said the supporting studies presented by Edinger were done on roads with a solid base and 5-inch asphalt layer. That’s something the county can’t afford, he said.
“We’ll have to pay $1.8 million to pave 9 miles of Betts Road with a 3-inch mat of asphalt.”
Commissioner Gerald Weiss said the county needs designated north-south and east-west haul roads, but it doesn’t have the cash to do the work.
Edinger offered to plead the county’s case to Pierre for more highway money, possibly from higher wheel and gas taxes.
“I’m for pay-to-play,” Edinger said. “If we’re going to have good roads, the county needs the money to support those roads.”
Commission Chairman John Claggett and Commissioner Denny Kiner agreed that more discussion is needed on the roads prior to setting an ordinance. That will happen from 11 a.m. to noon on Nov. 20.
“This is preface to an actual ordinance,” Claggett said. “I think we got ahead of ourselves.”
County Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml said test borings on concrete walls in shower areas at the county jail showed that the interior steel mesh core of walls is sound. The mesh, which is between all partition walls at the jail, was incorporated as a security feature.
That means, Ruml said, that the water-damaged concrete can be removed, replaced with new concrete, and waterproofed prior to the installation of new tiled showers.
Ruml said interested contractors will be given the results of the inspection tests so they can submit bids in the next few weeks to repair the longstanding shower problems at the jail.
Smith to be sworn in Dec. 14
Pat Smith told the commissioners that Dec. 14 will be his last day as Davison County state’s attorney.
On that day Smith said he will also be sworn in as a circuit judge in the First Judicial District. He will replace retiring Judge Sean O’Brien at the Mitchell courthouse.
“You will need to appoint someone who can hit the ground running on Dec. 14,” he told the commissioners. “There can be no lag time.”
He expressed the hope that his successor will be chosen by Nov. 20 when he will discuss the result of his negotiations with the county’s hailers’ union so he can explain negotiation procedures to his replacement. Smith said he plans to separate himself from the appointment process.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate to be involved,” he said but he did put a plug in for his staff.
“I’m proud of what I accomplished as state’s attorney, and I have a good team,” Smith said. “I’ve enjoyed my time as state’s attorney.”
He said anyone in his office would be capable of replacing him.
Smith said that during his first year on the bench he will hear only civil cases, to avoid dealing with juvenile and criminal cases he handled as state’s attorney.
Deputy States Attorneys Jim Taylor, Bob O’Keefe and Jim Miskimins held a brief closed executive session with the commissioners to discuss personnel issues at the State’s Attorney’s Office. No official action was taken afterwards.
• Kiepke said she was told by Commissioner Fischer, who is on long-term rehabilitation following knee surgery, that he will not be attending commission meetings until the end of November, nor will he attend telephonically.
• Commissioner Weitala did not attend Tuesday’s meeting and told Kiepke she will also be absent for the Nov. 8 meeting due to manager training at her regular job.
• Kiepke said Tom Greenway and Bernie Schmucker will fill in for Fischer and Weitala Nov. 8 on the County Canvassing Board.
• In an unrelated matter, Kiepke said that the title header was printed incorrectly on the official county ballot published on page A8 of Tuesday’s Daily Republic. The header should have read “Official General Election Ballot.” Kiepke said the ballot will be republished at no charge.
• After a public hearing, approved the transfer of a liquor license from Firesteel Links LLC to Wild Oak Golf Course.