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Davison County Commission moves into renovated room at North Offices

The Davison County commissioners are given a technology briefing Tuesday morning at the panel’s new meeting room. The room is at the Davison County North Offices on 1420 N. Main St. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

Three years after purchasing the building, the Davison County Commissioners inaugurated their new home Tuesday.

The commissioners held their first regular meeting in the newly renovated commission room at the Davison County North Offices at 1420 N. Main St. in Mitchell. The room now has space for 40 people in the audience, more than twice what the panel’s previous meeting space in the Davison County Courthouse could hold.

“It’s nice for us to finally be in the building. We’ve obviously been working on this space for a long time,” said Commission Chairman John Claggett.

The county bought the former Central Electric headquarters building in 2011 for $575,000 and sunk $270,000 in renovations into the building. That involved space for the county’s nurses, veterans service office and welfare office, all of whom were moved into the facility in 2013.

The commissioners were the last to move in, as furniture and the technology infrastructure were installed earlier this year.  

An 80-inch television fronts the room, where digital documents can be shown to the commissioners, such as plat changes viewed Tuesday morning.

Each commissioner has a microphone, which broadcasts into hearing assistance devices for those who need it. Plans include eventually being able to broadcast the meetings online on the county’s website. A table and lectern are set up in the middle of the room for those who present to the commission. A second screen is set up in the back of the room, along with plug-ins and workspace for media members.

The room does not yet have speakers connected to the microphones, and the commission will also look into ways to muffle extra noise in the room.

Because it can be harder to hear others, the commissioners concluded that members of the public will have to speak into the microphone in the center of the room if they want their comments heard, similar to how the Mitchell City Council takes public input during its meetings.

“We’re just going to have to get used to making sure people do that,” Claggett said.

The old commissioners room in the courthouse will be used, in part, for storage for the next-door auditor’s office.

Claggett said he expects the county to have an open house for members of the public to tour the county’s North Offices in the coming months.

County hears digital hardware pitch

Would the county be better off paying a monthly flat fee for technology upgrades over the current system of upgrading computers as needed?

That’s the question put before the commission Tuesday by Ramon Shultz, of Tech Solutions, the county’s technology provider.

Tech Solutions is offering its contracted clients a hardware service program that would allow the county to put its computers, laptops and servers on a schedule for replacement, replacing those items every 4 to 5 years. Shultz said the program would offer the county predictability when it comes to replacing computers and knowing how much the upgrades would cost, making department budgeting easier.

“It’s a win-win for everyone if that machine gets replaced, because the county gets upgraded machines and spends less on service,” he said. “It’s no secret that if you have newer equipment, I have fewer problems.”

Commissioner Randy Reider said it’s possible that the county’s service bill would be reduced if it were using newer equipment.

The county would pay a set amount per month for each laptop and desktop computer. Shultz said a server, for example, would likely cost $100 per month, while desktops and laptops would be around $25 per month. A preliminary estimate would cost the county nearly $30,000 a year on computers and that would be separate from the county’s current service agreement.

Commissioner Denny Kiner said the decision will come down to whether or not it’s cost effective to move into a new format. More information on the program, including a cost analysis, is expected later this summer.

Variance rules questioned

Meeting as the Board of Adjustment, the county approved three variances for lot sizes and setbacks, but a local resident said the county is wasting time with some of the rules it has in place.

Harvey Kelly told the commissioners that they would be better off changing certain zoning ordinances. Right now, an ordinance requires residences in areas zoned for agriculture to be on parcels of 25 acres or more.

“Why do we have an ordinance if you’re approving every person that comes in here?” Kelly asked the commissioners. “You would save yourself a lot of time and effort by changing the rules.”

Kiner agreed with Kelly’s sentiment and said the county is reconsidering the variance rules.

“Right now, I agree. That ordinance doesn’t mean a whole lot,” he said. “But I’m not sure 50 percent of the people in the county could afford to purchase 25 acres and live in the country right now.”

Claggett said the minimum was set in the 1980s as a way to protect area farmland; Kelly said he was against that rule when it was put in place.

The lot size in question -- owned by Suzanne Korzan in Beulah Township -- was being gifted to a family member and fit the current rules allowing land to be passed through a family without needing county approval. A setback request from Bob and Barb Weber in Beulah Township and a variance to create 16-acre lot by Lyle Kurtenbach also were approved.  

Other business

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

  • Approved plat changes as recommended by planning and zoning, including a plat for Suzanne Korzan in Beulah Township; a plat for Thomas and Sherry Patzer in Mitchell Township’s River Ridge Estates and a plat for Frank and Angela Luczak in Perry Township.

  • Supplemented the sheriff department’s budget with a federal Department of Justice alcohol overtime grant of $1,749.48.

  • Approved a resolution to support changes recommended by the South Dakota Department of Transportation for road classifications to designate with roads in the county are eligible for federal aid.

  • Updated the county’s credit card policy to designate the county auditor as the county manager of the county’s cards, to designate First Dakota National Bank as the county’s bank through which to get new credit cards and amend the county’s credit card policy to allow for purchases of up to $1,000, in line with the current card spending threshold.

  • Approved the hire of Gail Scott as a part-time jail employee, effective Aug. 1.

  • Approved a probationary wage increase for Planning and Zoning and Emergency Management Deputy Director Nathan Wenger.

  • Awarded the bid for caulking and mortar maintenance at the North Offices to Zimmer Caulking, of Mitchell, at a cost of $3,290.

  • Approved the auditor’s account with the treasurer, outstanding bills and timesheets.