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County considers passport photo printer purchase

Getting a passport in Davison County could get a lot easier. Davison County Treasurer Christie Gunkel requested the purchase of passport photograph equipment to help eliminate issues many applicants have had receiving approval by the U.S. Departm...

Getting a passport in Davison County could get a lot easier.

Davison County Treasurer Christie Gunkel requested the purchase of passport photograph equipment to help eliminate issues many applicants have had receiving approval by the U.S. Department of State.

Gunkel said the treasurer's office recommends about 50 percent of passport applicants have their passport photo taken a second time due to issues with color, size, position or glare. By Davison County acquiring its own passport photography equipment, Gunkel's recommendation could save Davison County residents time and energy.

The proposal was made at Tuesday's regular Davison County Commission meeting, but no formal approval was made by the commission. The commission had several questions during the informational discussion for Gunkel, but some commissioners seemed receptive to the idea.

"I think it's a good idea and it gets rid of the folderol," Commissioner John Claggett said. "It's a public service."

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While some applicants have been turned away to get a new photograph more likely to be approved, Gunkel said her department cannot deny a photograph, leaving some who demand to send their passport application along to the U.S. Department of State to wait for months to hear whether their passport has been approved or denied.

If the county gets its own passport equipment, the long wait some citizens face only to be denied by approval could be limited.

Gunkel said currently, Mitchell-area residents can get passport photos printed at Walmart, Walgreens, Photography Unlimited and the U.S. Post Office, with prices ranging from about $10 to $20. After hearing the costs of to have passport photos taken at local businesses, Commission Chairman Brenda Bode wondered whether the county's photos would be less expensive than those taken by private businesses.

"I do have a concern of charging less than those who are doing it in the business sector," Bode said. "I don't want to be perceived that we're in this business."

Bode said the county will have to establish the potential costs to begin shooting and printing passport photographs to justify the expense to purchase a camera and a specialized passport printer, a printer Gunkel said costs about $299.

Gunkel also gave the board an update on her department, including a brief discussion with commissioners about the South Dakota's new license plates. Gunkel informed commissioners that organizational decal plates are available either upon renewal or for $10 before one's plates expire.

The decal plates offer South Dakotans an opportunity to display one of about 100 organizations on a license plate for a cost determined by the organization represented. Included among the 102 approved organizations are Pheasant Country Ltd., Moose Lodge 875 in Mitchell and South Dakota State University. Other nonprofit groups can apply to the S.D. Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles.

Dive team gets new gear

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At Tuesday's meeting, the commission also authorized a $22,466.79 grant be spent on three complete sets of dive gear for Davison County Search and Rescue. According to Administrator of Emergency Management Jeff Bathke, the dive gear includes wetsuits, drysuits and communication systems.

The Homeland Security grant funds help expand the search and rescue team's collection of equipment. In 2014, a $7,131.95 rescue boat was purchased with funds donated by the Palace City Lions Club, and in 2015, the search and rescue team utilized $7,375 to purchase an enclosed trailed for its new boat.

The county's first three sets of dive gear puts the team about three dive suits away from a full stock of equipment. At Tuesday's meeting, Bathke said he will likely request the additional three sets of dive gear in 2017.

While the search and rescue team has not been called in as a standalone team, they did assist in the recovery of the body of a 6-year-old boy in April near Yankton.

Other business

• Heard the quarterly welfare report from Director of Welfare Dawn Grissom.

• Approved bills and the auditor's account with the treasurer.

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