Request for drug court offices spurs Davison Co. courthouse space talkA request for additional office space ignited territorial feelings at the courthouse during Tuesday’s meeting of the Davison County commissioners.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
A request for additional office space ignited territorial feelings at the courthouse during Tuesday’s meeting of the Davison County commissioners.
Deputy Chief Court Services Officer Ron Freeman told the commissioners that Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s criminal justice initiative, which was recently signed into law, has authorized the judicial system to implement a drug court in Davison County.
A drug court is a highly supervised, community-based system for drug offenders that uses intensive probation and drug treatment as an alternative to prison time, explained Freeman, and is a last-ditch alternative to prison. The new drug court should be in place by September, Freeman said, and it will handle about 25 individuals in its first year.
That will require more staff and office space, he said.
“We won’t have authority to hire until after July 1, but need to do something now to start planning,” Freeman said.
The new court will require two full-time staff: a court services (probation) officer, and a drug court support specialist who will supervise people assigned to drug court.
“We’re out of space on the third floor,” Freeman said. “We don’t have any other offices.”
Freeman said he would like, for security purposes, to have all probation personnel on the same floor but also understands that may not be possible.
Freeman asked the commissioners to consider letting drug court personnel use the old Court Appointed Special Advocates offices at the west end of the second floor.
Auditor Susan Kiepke warned the commissioners earlier in their meeting that Freeman’s request for more space was imminent, but she also said other departments in the courthouse are being squeezed for space and shouldn’t be ignored.
“I don’t think there should be any promises made until everyone has a voice,” she said.
The commissioners took that advice.
Commission Chairman John Claggett said the commissioners will tour the courthouse next week with Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml and inventory available space.
Commissioner Kim Weitala asked Kiepke to contact department heads in the courthouse and have them list their space requirements.
While Claggett applauded the drug court concept, he said the space request is part of a continuing list of unfunded mandates and funding cutbacks from Pierre.
Claggett expressed concern that more costs for the new drug court program will be dumped on counties, including the costs for counseling and possibly shortterm transitional housing facilities for parolees in the program.
Ongoing funding, and not one-time money, is needed to support such programs, he said.
Later in the same meeting, the commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Gerald Weiss dissenting, to pay $5,214 for an improved audio/video system for the courtroom at the Public Safety Center.
The system will be part of the First Judicial District’s ITV system which allows judges who are busy elsewhere to connect for local hearings, thereby saving travel time and expense, explained Deputy State’s Attorney Bob O’Keefe. The money will come from the law library fund.
Commissioner Weiss was annoyed by the court-ordered expense.
“I’m tired of these mandates telling us to spend taxpayers’ money with a snap of the fingers,” Weiss said. “I’d like to know a lot more about things like this before I before I approve them.”
Harr named chief deputy
Sheriff Steve Brink introduced Steve Harr, 46, as his new chief deputy at an annual salary of $46,462.
Harr, a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, is married and lives in Mount Vernon. His wife, Connie, works as a corrections officer for the county.
“Steve has been really good for our office, and he’s well acquainted with law,” Brink said. “He will be a good asset to the department.”
Harr’s comments were brief.
“I appreciate the sheriff giving me the opportunity to do this,” he said.
Through the years, Harr has become a nemesis for intoxicated drivers. In his most productive year, he posted 104 DUI arrests, surpassing the cumulative DUI arrests of local police and Highway Patrol personnel within his district, Brink said.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners:
• Approved Zoning Administrator Dan Sudrla’s $2,122 request for a new laptop computer and mobile work station, and three-year parts and labor agreement from Tech Solutions. The computer has the digital muscle needed for complex GIS mapping requirements, he said.
• At the recommendation of new county Weed Supervisor Clayton Wells, approved the purchase of new weed spraying equipment from Ag Systems, of Mitchell, at a cost of $13,324. The purchase amount was slightly more than a bid from C&R Supply, of Sioux Falls, but Wells said the availability of local service made the difference negligible.
• Heard Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml report that asbestos removal began Tuesday at the countyowned building at 1420 N. Main St., formerly owned by Central Electric. The hazardous cleanup will take about a week, after which time work crews will begin renovating the building for use of the county nurses and the commissioners.