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Drainage ordinance given final OK

In a 4-0 vote Tuesday at the courthouse in Mitchell, Davison County commissioners gave final approval to an updated drainage ordinance that will become effective 20 days after its publication.

There were some concerns expressed. Commissioners Denny Kiner and Gerald Weiss said they received phone calls from worried landowners about changes made to the ordinance during last week's first reading.

"People were worried that the changes left too many loopholes," Kiner said.

A change approved last week relieved landowners with vested drainage rights of a requirement to notify neighboring landowners before performing ditch maintenance work. Vested rights are those that existed prior to 1985 and were filed with the register of deeds by July 1,1992. That change was retained in the final ordinance.

Kiner said he fielded phone calls from landowners who were concerned that, without the notification requirement, ditch maintenance might go beyond returning the ditch to its original state.

Drainage committee Chairman Mark Schilling said the concern is not unwarranted.

"Most of the problems we've had have not been from cleaning out drainages, but not cleaning them to the correct specifications," he said.

Drainage Administrator Jeff Bathke said vested landowners won't be subject to the notice requirement, but permits will still be required before any maintenance work is done. It will be up to his office to make sure drainage work does not exceed a permit's limits.

Dave Estabrook, of rural Letcher, who last week pressed for the deletion of the notification requirement, said it was always his understanding that permits would be required for routine maintenance work, but landowners with vested rights did not want to to be delayed by notification procedures.

At the recommendation of Bathke, the commissioners rescinded a change made last week that would have required landowners affected by a drainage project to be notified by certified mail with a return receipt.

Bathke said state law does not require notification by certified mail, which he said would be unnecessarily costly for the county.

The ordinance requires applicants for a new drainage project to get signed waivers from neighboring landowners stating they're OK with the proposed project.

If those waivers are completed, together with other permit requirements, a project can proceed with administrative approval from Bathke.

Bathke said he will be able to notify, using regular mail, anyone who might be affected by a project.

An applicant also has the right to appeal an administrative decision to the drainage board, Bathke said.

Commissioner Randy Reider was out of town on personal business and did not vote on the ordinance.

Police/sheriff software

In other business, the commissioners heard a sales pitch from Zac Bradish, a representative of Zuercher Technologies, of Sioux Falls, which produces comprehensive law enforcement software.

With Bradish was Lyle Swenson, a former Davison County sheriff and former U.S. marshal who has been a longtime consultant for Zuercher.

The ledSuite software package is being considered for purchase by the Mitchell Police Division and the Davison County Sheriff's Office, said Jail Administrator Don Radel.

The ledSuite system is used by numerous law enforcement agencies, among them the South Dakota Highway Patrol and sheriff's departments in Pennington, Yankton and Turner counties.

The new software suite is designed to integrate all law enforcement functions, including dispatching, citation writing, arrests, booking, fingerprinting and jail. The suite will reportedly allow Mitchell police and the sheriff's office to share information with each other, as well as state agencies, more easily. The software also files reports and saves time by tracking and generating statistical reports that currently take hours to complete, Civil Deputy Kathye Fouberg said.

Half the cost of the $163,000 software package would be paid from 911 funds, and the remaining half would be split between the city and county. Zuercher would charge the county $10,000 a year to maintain and to regularly update the software. There would be no additional costs, Bradish said.

Commission Chairman John Claggett deferred any action on the software, pending receipt of a complete cost breakdown.

Other business

Also, the commissioners:

• Heard a late April to June quarterly report from Community Health Nurse Natalie Van Drongelen, who said the nurses are scheduled to move into their new offices in the former Central Electric building on Sept. 23. She reminded the commissioners that immunization shots will continue to be available at the new location for county residents who have no health insurance and for those who are under-insured.

• Heard from Commissioner Kim Weitala, who said a letter has been sent to county department heads directing them to use county time management software properly. Weitala said department heads have not been making consistent use of the system to track their own hours. "They need to apply to themselves what they require of their employees," she said. Weitala said accurate time reporting is necessary so the county can track its workforce needs.