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Davison County Commission wants more parking at courthouse

Visitors of the Davison County Courthouse need more accessible parking, according to members of the County Commission.

During its regular meeting Tuesday at the courthouse in Mitchell, the Commission took the first step in adding a new parking lot by unanimously passing a motion to start accepting sealed bids for the project.

"Our parking for the people we serve needs to be better," Commissioner Randy Reider said.

At the meeting, drawings of a 74-by-63.5 foot parking lot were presented to the Commission. The proposed lot would be directly north of the current parking lot, which sits east of the courthouse and holds about 30 spaces. It would include between 14 to 16 spaces and be accessible from Kimball Street.

Members of the Commission explained they hoped the project would be completed this summer, especially because construction work is planned on East Fifth Avenue this summer.

"We need the parking lot desperately," Davison County Auditor Susan Kiepke said. "Fifth Avenue or no Fifth Avenue, we need it."

Commissioners agreed, adding that department vehicles for the county already take up much of the space east of the building and do not allow for enough visitor parking. Many visitors of the courthouse park on the streets that surround the building.

"I would guess that more than half of that parking lot is occupied every day," Kiepke said. "That just doesn't leave a lot room for visitors."

A new lot would allow for visitors to park in the existing east lot and county vehicles to be parked in the new lot, which would be on the courthouse grounds but a little further from the building, maintenance supervisor Mark Ruml said. The upgrades would also include a more accessible sidewalk and curb area in front of the courthouse's entrance for the physically disabled.

There is not an estimated cost established, but the county has set aside $30,000 in its maintenance budget for a parking lot project.

Three trees would be subject to removal with the new parking lot, something Commissioners John Claggett and Reider said they would be OK with.

"I don't have a problem taking down trees, because we'll plant more," Claggett said. "We make a point of that."

Added Reider: "We have people in our county that have difficulties with mobility and they can't park very close to the building. We have to weigh our accessibility for them against a couple of trees."

Township takeover

The Davison County Highway Department will maintain fewer miles of township roads.

The Rome Township Board decided at a recent meeting it will privately contract the maintenance of its roads, making the township the first inside the county to maintain its own roads. The county highway department has maintained all township roads in recent years, but would no longer be responsible for the roadwork, grading or snow removal in Rome Township, which is located in the southeastern corner of the county. The Commission indicated the change is something it is fine with.

"We're not making any money maintaining roads for townships. It takes time for our guys and it wears on our equipment," Commissioner Denny Kiner said.

Claggett said he is concerned about making sure that the roadwork is still in capable hands and is being done in a safe manner.

"I want to make sure that they have their people and that they know what they're doing out there," he said. "They can't just have 'Fred' out there plowing roads, not knowing what he's doing."

He added that unqualified personnel could bring about liability problems.

Commissioner Gerald Weiss said other townships are considering changes to their road maintenance as well.

Other business:

In other business Tuesday, the Commission:

• Noted the absence of commissioner Kim Weitala, who was out with an illness.

• Recognized new courthouse deputy Josh Peterson, who had his first day Monday and was formally introduced by Sheriff Steve Brink.

• Approved a price quote from A&B Business Solutions for the new desk for Peterson, which will be ordered soon and potentially in place in the next month.

• Opened bids for highway and weed control supplies, which were read aloud and tabled. The bids will be awarded at next week's regular meeting on Tuesday.

• Noted approval for a road study that will be done in the county as part of a state and federal study.

• Heard a report from Brink, who said the Mitchell Department of Public Safety and the Davison County Sheriff's Department are working together on their LeadSuite software, which will more closely connect the law enforcement data and files between the city and county and allow for more sharing.

• Approved outstanding bills and timesheets, along with the minutes from the last regular meeting.